A photo-essay of the several unique microfauna found on the monsoon hit slopes of the Western Ghats in India. Reptiles, amphibians and other wildlife of the Sahyadris through a naturalist’s eyes.
Through the years of my course on herpetology (the study of reptiles and amphibians) with the Bombay Natural History Society, I was constantly learning about the different adaptations of reptiles and amphibians to their unique habitats and was keen on seeing these incredible creatures in their wild habitat.
Thus, I undertook my first trip in the heart of the monsoon to the herpetology hotspot of the Western Ghats, Amboli in Maharashtra, Cotigaon Wildlife Sanctuary in Goa and Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka and the adjacent areas first in 2013 and since then have been religiously visiting these parts each monsoon along with exploring other parts of the Western Ghats in search of crab species new to science with Tejas and team. More about our crab expeditions to unchartered territories of the Ghats can be found here.
The Magic of the Monsoon
For me, squirming through the squelching, squishy muck and splashing through the overflowing streams in the verdant green hills while the thick fog obscures your vision and the pelting rain hitting your back is a cathartic process. I revel in the sights, smells, and sounds of the monsoon, the harbinger of life in this part of the country. The croaking of Typewriter frogs echoing through the thickly wooded forest, the Bull Frogs and Common Indian Toads coarsely calling for mates, interrupted only by the claps of thunder resonating with the ground that you are standing on…! Each inch of the land is brimming and bursting with life, making you feel so alive!
Here is a short photo-essay on some of the common species of reptiles, amphibians and other creepy crawlies that roam the Western Ghats. These are some of the most misunderstood groups of animals in the world for they are not as dangerous as they are portrayed to be; only ever striking back in self-defense after being treaded on or threatened.
Hope you enjoy these images!
Into the Sahyadris
Do it yourself!
The Western Ghats are abound with wildlife and all you need to know is how to look for it. One of the best places to start ‘herp-ing’ is in Amboli (nearest bus and railhead is Sawantwadi 31 km away | Sawantwadi is well-connected by overnight buses and trains from major cities. I prefer the Konkan Kanya Express 10111 that leaves Mumbai at midnight and reaches Sawantwadi early the next morning, thus saving you a day). Important to note that the Sawantwadi station is about 8 km away from the highway where you shall get a bus, hence you could get off a station prior, at Kudal.
Beware of traffic on the ghats to Amboli on the weekends as locals gather around waterfalls en route to make merry generally in the second half of the day, leading to massive jams.
There are a handful of budget and mid-range hotels in Amboli and it is advisable to book beforehand as they tend to get full in the monsoon. You could also ask them whether any ‘eco-camps’ have been scheduled which are these trails lead by naturalists, either locals or those who have worked in the area. A picturesque homestay run by a butterfly and herpetofauna- expert called ‘Whistling Woods’ is a good place to consider.
Hope that you enjoyed the first part of the series, the next part shall be uploaded in two weeks’ time!
Please drop me a message on projectcroak [at] gmail.com or comment below if you have any feedback!