Kochi city boasts rich wildlife

Indian monitor lizard  

Kerala is home to spectacular wildlife and tourists throng its tiger reserves and national parks to view them. Yet urban areas too are home to several wild species and Kochi is no exception, according to the city's naturalists and researchers, many of whom are trying to document it.

Associate professor in the Department of Zoology at Thevara's Sacred Heart College, Samson Davis P. and his team have been documenting urban fauna within the limits of the Kochi Corporation for the past year. Abin Joseliph, a doctoral student at the college, is now focusing on compiling lists of birds and butterflies in this region. Preliminary results from his work reveal that there are around 70 bird species and an equal number of butterflies within the city limits.

While these include common species such as blue tiger butterflies and white-breasted kingfishers, numerous species that are usually spotted in forest areas are also part of this list. Joseliph has spotted the suffused snow flat and Tamil yeoman butterflies near Lulu Mall and the traffic-dominated stretches of Kathrikkadavu respectively. Interestingly, both species are dwellers of evergreen and deciduous forests.


The larvae of the Tamil yeoman feeds on the leaves of Hydnocarpus trees which are found in evergreen forests. This tree is now being grown in some gardens, including the college’s, he says.

“Similarly, the cultivation of ornamental plants like Mussanda and palms could be ensuring the presence of butterflies such as the commander and palmflies,” said Joseliph.

“The general perception is that wildlife are seen only in forests and many people don't believe that urban areas too can hold so much diversity,” said Dr. Davis. “We hope that our findings can be used as baseline data that could come in use in organised urban planning if required.”

Brahminy Starling

Brahminy Starling  


The team has recorded forest birds such as the rufous woodpecker in the city. However, birds are the more visible among these urban fauna, says Vishnupriyan Kartha, secretary of the city-based Cochin Natural History Society.

The last week of October is celebrated as Urban Wildlife Week and October 22 as Urban Wildlife Day in some parts of the United States.

“We need more detailed surveys to study the presence of other taxa in the city,” he says. “Apart from small mammals, I have even seen jackals in the city's outskirts.”

Found in Thevara

The common Indian monitor lizard Varanus bengalensis which is usually seen in forests and the adjoining countryside (including agricultural lands) can be occasionally spotted in Chilavannur and Thevara. The Indian grey mongoose Herpestes edwardsi is common in many parts of the city too. Plants are also part of this diversity and another team from the College's botany department plan to document the floral diversity of two wards within city limits this year. Earlier, a study in 2013 by the College's research team documented almost 200 animal species in and around Thevara alone, including 64 invertebrates and 129 vertebrates. Such urban, local biodiversity are crucial because many of them provide several ecosystem services.

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Printable version | Jul 31, 2021 10:34:52 AM |

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