Priliminary Survey of Herpetofauna Mumbai RC

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  Life sciences Leaflets (LSIC2011)59- 65,2012. FREE DOWNLOAD ISSN2277-4297(P) 0976 – 1098(O) PEER-REVIEWED Page | 59   PUBLISHED ON 29 TH FEB 2012PRELIMINARY SURVEY OF HERPETOFAUNA OF BORIVALIMANGROVES – A COASTAL BELT IN THE SUBURBS OF MUMBAIRAHULRATAN R. CHAUHAN & HITESH U. SHINGADIA SVKM’S MITHIBAI COLLEGE OF ARTS, CHAUHAN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE& A. J. COLLEGE OF COMMERCE & ECONOMICS, VILE PARLE-WEST MUMBAI400 056. MAHARASHTRA,;  ABSTRACT: Mangroves are the tropical and subtropical costal forest formations encircled/spread by thetidal rivers and/or the sea water flooded frequently by the tidal water. Growing in theintertidal area and estuary mouths between land and sea, Mangroves provide critical habitatfor a diverse marine and terrestrial flora and fauna. Healthy mangrove forests are key tohealthy marine ecology. A preliminary survey of the herpetofauna of Borivali Mangroveswas undertaken from March 2008 - July 2010. The Survey revealed dominance of amphibianfauna during monsoon, however reptilian fauna dominated the other seasons of the year.Amphibians were represented by three families with five genera and only one order Anura.The reptilian fauna comprised of eleven families belonging to three orders and twenty onegenera. Order Ophidia showed significant dominance of eight non-venomous species of snakes, three semi-venomous and five venomous species of snakes. Testudines wererepresented by Trionyx while Saurians were represented by Gekkonidae, Agamidae,Varanidae and Scincidae. KEY WORD: Mangroves, Reptiles, Amphibians. INTRODUCTION: Mangroves are woody trees or shrubs that grow in the coastal habitats, for which the termmangrove swamp is also used. The word mangroves as obscurely connected with Portugueseword “mangue” and the Spanish word “mangle” and the English word “groves” as it dates itssrcin in 1613. India has a mangrove area of about 3,56,500 Ha. Comprising more than 60species belonging to 41 genera and 29 families (Untawale and Wafar, 1986). Of these 80% of the Indian mangroves are present along the East Coast and Andaman and Nicobar Group of islands (Snedakar and Snedakar, 1984). The rest is present along the West Coast of India anda small percentage on the Lakshadweep group of islands. In Maharashtra, Mumbai and Thanehave the most dense mangroves in the state, hosting over 40 Sq. Km. of the Coastalecosystem. A study of Maharashtra  Life sciences Leaflets (LSIC2011)59- 65,2012. FREE DOWNLOAD ISSN2277-4297(P) 0976 – 1098(O) PEER-REVIEWED Page | 60  Remote Sensing Application Center based on analysis of satellite imagery (done at the behestof the Bombay high court) found that the state has approximately 257.71 sq. km. of mangroves. Urbanized areas of Mumbai and Thane have the largest swathe of coastalwoodlands forming the dense tidal forests, mainly because of largest areas of mud flats.Mangroves are one of the biologically diverse ecosystems in the world. Being rich in organicmatter and nutrients, it supports a unique diversity of flora and fauna. India has rich diversityof herpetofauna, represented by 510 species of reptiles and 235 species of amphibians.Literature survey reveals that a few naturalists and scientists have attempted to studyHerpetofauna as early as 1870s. Stoliczka (1872), Daniel and Shull (1963) and Vyas (2000)have studied reptiles and amphibians from Gujarat. The Western districts of Kolhapur,Sindhudurga, Satara, Ratnagiri, Pune, Raigad, Nasik and Thane are rich in biodiversity asthey harbour parts of the Western Ghats, one of the hotspots of biodiversity. According toPadye and Ghate (2002) out of 10 families of Amphibian from India 6 (i.e.60%) arerepresented in the state of Maharashtra. Review of literature revealed deficit in theinformation regarding herpetofauna of Mangrove Forests along the Borivali region of theMumbai. The diverse Habitat of the mangrove swamps are rapidly depleting due to rapidIndustrialization, urbanization and land reclamation. Hence the study was undertaken tofulfill this lacuna of information in the field of biodiversity, a frequently devastatingecosystem. STUDY AREA: The study area, Gorai (Borivali) (19º14’12.69” N & 72º49’ 12.51” E) is about 3 mts. abovesea level (Fig. 1). This creek transects the northwest portion of the suburban Mumbai,extends 12 km inlandthrough vastmangrove mudflatsand low lying marshyareas.Fig.1: Google Map of Borivali Mangrovesshowing study area.  Life sciences Leaflets (LSIC2011)59- 65,2012. FREE DOWNLOAD ISSN2277-4297(P) 0976 – 1098(O) PEER-REVIEWED Page | 61  South of the creek is a village, Gorai & Charkop. The northern bank of the creek is bordered by Gorai village, which is relatively less developed and forms a natural beach and a major tourist attraction Esselworld. The shallow creek of Gorai is under the high influence of semidiurnal tides with spring and neap ranges of 3.5 mts. and 1.8 mts. respectively in themouth area that induces good tidal flushing of the lower reaches. The vegetation under dailytidal influence comprises of   Avicennia marina being the dominant,  Rhizophora mucronata,Salvadora persica, Acanthus ilicifolius, Sesuvium portulacastrum, Derris uliganosa,Clerodendron inermi, Aeluropus lagopoides (grass), Typha angustata (cattail) were other mangrove associated plant species present in the study area. The average height of mangrovesfalls between 2 - 6 mts. METHODOLOGY: The preliminary survey of herpetofauna of Gorai Creek (Borivali) was carried out fromMarch 2008 - July 2010. The random surveys using Visual encounter survey method wasemployed. Randomized walk transects were carried out during the low tide periods across theterrestrial and marshy habitats consisting of reclaimed lands, bunds, mangrove forests, water  paths & grassy patch on monthly basis to document the herpetofauna. Fishing Nets with thehelp of local fishermen were towed around the water canals to catch the sea snakes and other species of snakes. However were successful in catching  Acrochordus granulatus (File snakeor wart snake). An attempt was made to bring out the richness of amphibians and reptiles inthe mangroves of Gorai creek, authenticated by comparing data collected on field with thestandard herpetology references from books and other sources (Das and Dutta, 1998; Daniel,2002; Ashok Captain 2004; REPTILES DATABASE website). Herpetofauna was observed& identified on the basis of scale count (in case of snakes) and specific marking patterns onthe body. No animal was collected during the survey. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: The checklist presented has a scope to be updated; giving the difficulty of the terrain andmarshy habitat some species may not have been observed. A further study is requiredespecially for the survey of amphibians seen in the mangroves of Mumbai. The survey of herpetofauna in coastal mangroves of Borivali revealed dominance of amphibian faunaduring monsoon from June to September, perhaps due to the influx of rainwater and river water, which decreases the salinity of the estuarine/creek waters considerably (Table 1).Reptilian fauna showed the highest diversity throughout the study period (Fig.2). Amphibians  Life sciences Leaflets (LSIC2011)59- 65,2012. FREE DOWNLOAD ISSN2277-4297(P) 0976 – 1098(O) PEER-REVIEWED Page | 62  were dominated by frogs and toads representing three families Viz. Bufonidae, Ranidae andRhacophoridae with five genera. Most of the frogs were observed in amplexus duringmonsoon. The reptilian fauna observed were Ophids (serpent), Saurian (lizards), andTestudines was represented by only one species Viz.  Lissemys punctata (Trionyx); whileOrder Sauria showed dominance of five species resembling four families viz. Gekkonidae,Agamidae, Varanidae and Scincidae. Order Serpentes showed diversity of eight species of non-venomous, three species of semi-venomous and five species of venomous snakes.Colubroids dominated among the ophids with eight species representing five non-venomousand three semi-venomous snakes. This checklist will assist the researchers working in thefield of herpetofauna of the Mangrove areas. This specific regional checklist might bereplicated as presence and absence data of herpetofauna of many other areas of theMangroves is lacking.Fig.2: Dominance of Reptilian fauna in Mangroves fromBorivali. CONCLUSION: Biologist estimated that the current rate of extinction is at least 1000 to 10,000 times the rate before we arrived. In due course of time all species will become extinct, but there isconsiderable evidence that we are hastening the final exit for a growing number of species.According to the researchers Edward O. Wilson and Stuart Primm, at a 1% extinction rateatleast 20% of the world’s current species of animal and plant could be gone by 2030 and50% could vanish by the end of this century. In spite of this, many are living precariously dueto onslaught of deforestation, urbanization, pollution and concomitant habitat destruction for land reclamation. Thus the Government agencies should now take stringent action on thelandgrabers who have encroached upon the mangrove areas clandestinely. Many mangroveareas from Versova to Bhayandar have been mercilessly hacked and concrete buildings havecome up on reclaimed land. This will have detrimental effects on rich herpetofauna nowsighted at Gorai mangroves (Borivali). Nevertheless the constant unloading of the solidgarbage waste of the North Mumbai is at Gorai will fasten the destruction of richHerpetofauna sighted in the present investigation making it a relic of past if not conserved.
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