A new species of gecko from the lateritic plateaus of Northern Western Ghats

by Zeeshan Mirza
The new species of gecko of the genus Cnemaspis
Zeeshan Mirza


Researchers from the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore and Centre for Ecological Sciences, IISc, Bangalore have described a new species of gecko belonging to the genus Cnemaspis from Kaas plateau in Satara district of Maharashtra. The new species is named after Dr. Varad Giri of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) who has extensively worked to document the herpetofauna of India. The research paper was published on 17th of June in the journal Zootaxa (read summary) authored by Zeeshan Mirza, Saunak Pal, Harshal Bhosale and Rajesh Sanap.

The fragile Kaas plateau is well known for its flora diversity and recent fauna explorations have resulted in discoveries of a new species of trapdoor spider, a gecko and a caecilian. This highlights the need for dedicated faunastic surveys across the northern Western Ghats which have long been considered less biodiverse than central and southern Western Ghats. The new gecko species is known only from the type locality where it dwells among boulders and tree hollows along dense forest streams on the plateau.

Each year thousands of tourists visit Kaas plateau during the flowering season which has resulted in numerous hotels and houses that have sprung up on these plateaus which until recently were far from disturbance. To control tourists, the forest department has fenced off the area where the flowering takes place during the monsoon. This would certainly hamper the movement of animals and might have other ill-effects. Perhaps elevation of Kaas plateau and surrounding reserved forests to the status of a wildlife sanctuary would help preserve this unique ecosystem and creatures that still remain undocumented in the landscape.

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