Friday, August 7, 2009

Rapid Survey at Thally RF on August 1/2 2009

A field survey of mammals, reptiles and birds in the Thally Reserved Forest was carried out on 1st and 2nd August, 2009, by a joint team of ANCF and KANS volunteer naturalists supported by nine Forest Guards from Jawalagiri Range. Thally area was divided into 31 grids of 1.7km X 1.7km. Grid numbers 1-5 placed horizontally (East-West) were designated for sampling. There were 9 such horizontal segments for sampling. However, after consultation with forest guards only 5 segments were sampled, as the linear strip part on the south had highly degraded forests with Lantana infestation.

Thally region is known to be an area with high human-elephant conflict. Keeping in mind the safety of participants, known trek paths were chosen in consultation with the forests guards of the region.

Five paths were chosen to cover the following areas:

1. Gummala Agraharam-Muthurayan Gudi-Belakkeri
2. Ganganahalli-Bolari-Balemadu
3. Oddarpalaiyam Foothpath-Janpokantai-Bajjaitank
4. Devarabettam via Vanabanda – Muddenaattam tank
5. Puduyeri (Hosakere)-Sankareshwaran temple-Karnataka border

The Divisional Forest Officer and Range Forest Officer were informed about the survey program and a request for the support of Forest Department field staff for the survey had also been conveyed to the concerned Range Officer. Participation from the forest department personnel was excellent. There were 9 forest guards present for the survey along with a person from the village for each team consisting of 4 volunteers. Members of the Kenneth Anderson Nature Society took the responsibility for all the local logistical support for the two-day survey program.

The participants were given a presentation on the survey plan and methods by Dr.Geetha Nayak, ANCF, on 31st evening. Herpetologists Mr. Ganesh and Mr Chandramauli, consultants of ANCF, conducted a rapid survey and made a checklist of the reptiles and amphibians species of the region.

The survey recorded mammal and reptile species by (1) direct sighting, (2) indirect evidences such as the droppings, pug/hoof/pad marks and feeding signs and (3) interviews with local inhabitants using photographs to gather information on the presence of mammals and reptilian species in the region both at present and in the past.

Participants were divided into three teams with each team having 4–5 people. On 1st August there were 3 teams going to the trek paths 1, 2 and 3. On 2nd August there were 2 teams that took paths 4 and 5.

Background materials such as a map of the study area, documents of pug/hoof/pad marks of larger mammals, survey methods, and data sheets along with a GPS unit were given to each group.

Due to the heavy rain on 31st evening many footprints could easily be seen on the wet ground on 1st August. Most commonly seen footprint was wild pig (Sus scrofa), elephants (Elephas maximus) and spotted deer (Axis axis). Teams also recorded the foot prints of Leopard (Panthera Pardus), Sloth bear (Melursus ursinus), Indian hare (Lepus nigricollis) and Indian porcupine (Hystrix indica).

Mammals sighted during the survey were Bonnet Macaque (Macaca radiata), Common Indian Mongoose (Herpestes javanicus) and Three-striped palm squirrel (Funambulus palmarum). Bird sightings were also recorded in the survey, and some of the amateur bird watchers felt that Thally area was exceptional for raptors. One of the teams also recorded a species of butterfly, Red Admiral, which is known found mostly in the wetter parts of the Western Ghats. The herpertologists also recorded an unidentified species of toad, which did not belong of any of the genuses that they were familiar with. They have recommended a thorough investigation of the area for reptile and amphibians species.

A checklist for birds is given below and for remaining taxa is being complied.



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