Threat of submergence from Polavaram project
HYDERABAD: In a heartening news for wildlife enthusiasts another ‘golden gecko’, the “severely endangered lizard” has been sighted in the State this time in the equally threatened Papikonda hills of the northern Eastern Ghats abutting Godavari river.
“It was discovered by a team of World Wide Fund for Nature- India during one of its nature camps at the Papikonda hills,” said Farida Tampal, State Director of WWF- India, Andhra Pradesh. The rare primitive living lizard protected under the Schedule I Part II of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, was sighted a few months ago but not highlighted till it was published in a research journal recently.
For those closely tracking rare lizards, it is big news coming as it were close on the heels of it being sighted in Seshachalam hill ranges by a young researcher, M. Rajasekhar of Sri Venkateswara University.
Its sighting in northern Eastern Ghats now is significant as it was earlier thought to be endemic to Seshachalam hill ranges in the south, the WWF team said.
But their joy of the significant sighting of this endemic and range restricted species in Papikonda hills appears short-lived as these hills face a threat of submergence from the construction of the Indira Sagar Project (Polavaram project).
The ‘golden gecko’ holds special interest to herpetologists as it represents one of only two known species in the genus Calodactylodes, considered relics of the Gondwana period in the earth’s geological history.
The WWF team conducted a short but intensive survey to investigate their population, size and extent in the locality. Sub-adult ‘golden geckos’ were also encountered.
They were brownish grey coloured, increasingly turning golden while adult males had prominently golden hue giving rise to its distinguishing name.
A WWF researcher said the ‘golden gecko’ was first discovered in Arcot and Vellore in 1870, with a second population being reported from Seshachalam and Velikonda hill ranges in Andhra Pradesh in 1985 and recently from Niyamgiri hills in Orissa.
The locality where the gecko was sighted now is part of the Perantalapalle Reserve Forest of Khammam district, and is situated next to the Papikonda Wildlife Sanctuary.