Tamil Nadu

Rare tarantula sighted in Villupuram district

Unusual home: The spider was sighted in the Pakkamalai reserve forests near Gingee.

Unusual home: The spider was sighted in the Pakkamalai reserve forests near Gingee.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The known habitat of Peacock Parachute Spider is in degraded forests near Nandyal in Andhra Pradesh

In an interesting find, researchers have sighted a critically endangered species of tarantula for the first time beyond its known habitat in the Eastern Ghats.

The spider belonging to the genus Poecilotheria, commonly known as the Peacock Parachute Spider or Gooty Tarantula was spotted by a team of researchers of the Puducherry-based Indigenous Biodiversity Foundation (IBF) in the Pakkamalai Reserve Forests near Gingee in Villupuram district.

Chance spotting

The team of wildlife researchers was involved in field work in the reserve forests recently when they sighted a Gooty Tarantula (Poecilotheria metallica) resting in a cave. The species was later cross-matched with photographic evidence published by the Zoo Outreach Organisation and Wildlife Information Liaison Development Society.

The species, known to be endemic to India, was found at different locations in the reserve forests. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categorised it as Critically Endangered.

According to K. Raman, founder of IBF, “The spider was sighted way back in 1899 by Reginald Innes Pocock on the basis of a single female specimen in Gooty. About 102 years later this species has been recorded at degraded forest between Nandyal and Giddalur in the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh.” IUCN says on its website that it could not be said to occur naturally in Gooty, since it could have come from the Eastern Ghats at least 100 km away.

S. Vimalraj, a wildlife researcher said the species had so far not been sighted in any other part of India or Sri Lanka except its known habitat in Andhra Pradesh.

Not surveyed before

According to Zeeshan A. Mirza, Researcher at National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru, “This is an interesting find as this area has never been surveyed before. Species of this genus can be identified based on the banding patterns on the underside of the legs. Tarantulas are biological pest controllers and there is a huge demand for them by collectors in the pet trade. There is an urgent need to protect them.”

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jul 2, 2020 5:27:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/rare-tarantula-sighted-in-villupuram-district/article29272058.ece

Next Story