It is not just the endangered Indian vulture Gyps indicus that lives in Bejjur forest in Adilabad, Telangana. The 253 sq. km. thickly forested area on the banks of Pranahita river in the eastern part of this district is a biodiversity haven, as the presence of a rare frog in the area shows.
Recently, Polasa Tirupathi, a bird tracker working with the Forest Department, spotted a painted frog — Uperodon taprobanicus — on a tree within the campus of the Bejjur Forest Range office. “We had a hunch that this had to be a rare species when we first saw it,” recalled an excited Bejjur Forest Range Officer, M. Ram Mohan, and Ravikanth Manchiryala, field biologist-researcher at the vulture conservation project. In their studies, the amphibian was found for the first time in Telangana.
Hyderabad-based wildlife researchers from the Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agriculture University, B. Laxmi Narayana and B. Naresh, identified it as the Indian painted frog. More research revealed that the find had been made in an area that fell outside the mapped distribution area of the species, which extends from Sri Lanka to Bengal.
The frog is found in tree holes, burrows, pollution-free wetland, and riverine areas, records of its distribution say. “The discovery clearly indicates that the area supports various endemic and threatened species, and calls for improved conservation efforts,” said Bejjur Range Officer, A. Venkateshwarlu.
This particular animal is listed among species of ‘least concern’ by IUCN, also known as the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The UK-based International Reptile Conservation Foundation will publish it in the ‘Journal of IRCF Reptiles and Amphibians: Conservation and Natural History’.
Bejjur reserve forest on the Pranahita basin, which also boasts of the Peddavagu stream cutting across, is home to a host of species of flora and fauna. The over 50 types of trees include the tall Narepa Chettu, Hardwickia binata , the insectivorous Drosera burmannii , and the flagship teak, Tectona grandis .
The presence of rare striped hyena, leopard, almost all the ungulates except the gaur, and even the tiger have been reported from here. There are around16 species of birds of prey in addition to over 50 other avian species and about 15 reptiles and 10 species of amphibians.