A faunal survey conducted in the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve spread across Palakkad and Thrissur has recorded over 500 species, many of which were hitherto unseen in the protected area.
The recent survey organised by the Forest department in association with the Travancore Nature History Society (TNHS) and other conservation non-governmental organisations (NGOs) covered all the elevations and habitats, including teak plantations and sub-tropical evergreen forests, in the reserve.
The surveyors spotted as many as 200 bird species, including 30 species previously not found in the region. The total number of bird species thereby rose to 290 in the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve. The notable species include Black stork, Striated heron, Legge’s hawk eagle, Lesser fish eagle, White-eyed buzzard, Blue-eared kingfisher, Brown-headed barbet, Rusty-tailed flycatcher, Bourdillon’s blackbird and the Great Indian hornbill.
The Western Ghats endemics included Malabar grey hornbill, Malabar barbet, Malabar parakeet and White-bellied blue flycatcher.
The surveyors also recorded 209 butterflies, including 11 species that are additions to the Management Plan checklist of the reserve. The survey yielded an impressive diversity in spite of the soaring temperatures witnessed during the four-day exercise.
New butterfly species recorded include Common banded peacock, Evening brown, Anomalous nawab, White-disc hedge blue, African grass jewel, Scarce shot silverline and Malabar flash. As many as 19 Western Ghats endemics, including Malabar rose, Malabar raven, Malabar banded swallowtail, Sahyadri grass yellow and Malabar tree-nymph, were also spotted. With the new additions, the total number of butterfly species has gone up to 285.
The odonate diversity also remained healthy with 49 species recorded, including those endemic to the Western Ghats such as Gomphidia kodaguensis Fraser, 1923; Aciagrion approximans krishna Fraser, 1921; Agriocnemis keralensis Peters, 1981; Ceriagrion chromothorax Joshi & Sawant, 2019; Euphaea fraseri (Laidlaw,1920); and Caconeura risi (Fraser, 1931). While 30 new records were added to the checklist, the number of odonata species has increased to 54.
The survey also recorded the presence of 12 reptile species, six amphibian species, tigers, leopards, sloth bears, gaurs, spotted deers, small Indian civets and stripe-necked mongoose.
Parambikulam Tiger Reserve deputy director Sujith R. flagged off the survey. Range officers Vinod P.V., Babu M.M., biologist Vishnu Vijayan and TNHS research associate Kalesh Sadasivan led the proceedings.