Several bird, butterfly, odonata, cicada and ant species were recorded in the Munnar Wildlife Division during a recent faunal survey conducted by the Forest department.
As many as 101 delegates representing Kerala University, Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University and several NGOs including Travancore Natural History Society (TNHS) participated in the four-day annual exercise that covered Mathikettan Shola National Park, Pampadum Shola National Park, Anamudi Shola National Park, Kurinjimala Sanctuary, Eravikulam National Park and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. The area lying between elevations of 500 and 2,800 metres was covered in the survey.
A total of 184 bird species were documented during the exercise. The notable species were Painted spurfowl, Painted bush quail, Pallid harrier, Common buzzard, Nilgiri flycatcher, Grey-bellied cuckoo, Black-and-orange flycatcher, White-bellied Sholakili, Speckled piculet, Yellow-footed green pigeon and Yellow-throated bulbul.
Munnar remained a treasure trove of butterflies with 189 species being recorded. These included species endemic to the Western Ghats such as Red-disc bushbrown, Palni Sailer, Palni Fritillary, Palni Four-ring, Nilgiri tiger. Grass jewel, the smallest butterfly in the State, was recorded in Chinnar. Southern birdwing, the largest Indian butterfly, was also found during the survey. Other interesting finds were Malabar rose, Baronet, Nilgiri tit, Red flash, White hedge blue and White-disc hedge blue.
The region also had 52 odonate species with Chinnar recording the highest number among the parks. The notable species that were detected include Burmagomphus laidlawii, Aciagrion approximans, Indolestes gracilis and Gomphidia kodugensis. Pantala flavescens, the Global Wanderer dragonfly, was noted in the higher elevation camps. Protosticta monticola, an extremely rare and endemic damselfly, was also among those found in Anamudi Shola National Park.
In addition, the researchers documented seven of cicadas, 25 species of ants, 12 species of frogs, eight species of reptiles and mammals like tiger, leopard, Nilgiri marten, gaur, and herds of elephants.
Munnar Wildlife Division wildlife warden S.V. Vinod, who led the survey, said the untimely heavy rains had affected the population of invertebrates including butterflies and odonates during their early stages. This necessitated another survey after the monsoon. He added that a booklet of common fauna of the region will be published for the forest staff and public.