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HERPETOFAUNA OF THE MEGHAMALAI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY, SOUTHERN WESTERN GHATS, INDIA: AN UPDATED CHECKLIST WITH ANNOTATIONS ON TAXONOMY AND NOMENCLATURE

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Herpetofaunal surveys were conducted in the Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary in southern Tamil Nadu, India, over a period of two years, to assess species richness in this landscape. Sixty-four species of reptiles from 15 families and 31 species of amphibians from nine families were recorded. Eight species of reptiles and five species of amphibians are reported here for the first time, including the first record of a caecilian (Uraeotyphlus sp.) from this landscape. The rediscovery of a potentially divergent population of wood snake, bearing the now defunct nomen Xylophis indicus (presently in the synonymy of X. stenorhynchus), is reported c.140 years after its original description. A revised, collated checklist, accommodating taxonomic revisions from the recent past, is presented based on our surveys and prior literature. It constitutes 99 species of reptiles and 41 species of amphibians–a remarkable diversity that beseeches concerted conservation action in the region.
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21J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., Vol. 115: 2018
HERPETOFAUNA OF THE MEGHAMALAI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY,
SOUTHERN WESTERN GHATS, INDIA: AN UPDATED CHECKLIST WITH
ANNOTATIONS ON TAXONOMY AND NOMENCLATURE1
R. Chaitanya2,*, akshay khandekaR3, daniel G. Caleb4, nilanjan MukheRjee5, avRajjal Ghosh6 and
vaRad GiRi7
1Accepted July 04, 2018
First published: January 31, 2019 | doi: 10.17087/jbnhs/2018/v115/122716
2508, 8 B Cross, Asha Township, Doddagubbi Village, Bengaluru 560 077, Karnataka, India. Email: rollingmenhirs@gmail.com
3National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bengaluru 560 065, Karnataka, India.
Email: akshaykhandekar555@gmail.com
4Centre for Ecological Sciences, Biological Sciences Building, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru 560 012, Karnataka, India.
Email: caleb992@gmail.com
56/1/1A Swinhoe Street, Ballygunge, Flat 2A/2B, Kolkata700 019, West Bengal, India. Email: mabuya.rocks@gmail.com
6Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, School of Life Science,
Pondicherry University, Puducherry 605 014, India. Email: pitviper18@gmail.com
7National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bengaluru 560 065, Karnataka, India.
Email: varadgiri@gmail.com
*Corresponding author
Herpetofaunal surveys were conducted in the Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary in southern Tamil Nadu, India, over a
period of two years, to assess species richness in this landscape. Sixty-four species of reptiles from 15 families and
31 species of amphibians from nine families were recorded. Eight species of reptiles and ve species of amphibians
are reported here for the rst time, including the rst record of a caecilian (Uraeotyphlus sp.) from this landscape. The
rediscovery of a potentially divergent population of wood snake, bearing the now defunct nomen Xylophis indicus
(presently in the synonymy of X. stenorhynchus), is reported c.140 years after its original description. A revised,
collated checklist, accommodating taxonomic revisions from the recent past, is presented based on our surveys and
prior literature. It constitutes 99 species of reptiles and 41 species of amphibians–a remarkable diversity that beseeches
concerted conservation action in the region.
Keywords: Reptiles, Amphibians, High Wavys, Western Ghats, Pareidae, Ichthyophiidae
INTRODUCTION
The western escarpments and plateaus of the Western
Ghats (WG) in peninsular India have enjoyed considerable
attention with regard to herpetofaunal biodiversity and
systematic studies in the recent past (Biju and Bossuyt
2009; Biju et al. 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014a, 2014b; Garg et
al. 2017; Vijayakumar et al. 2014). These studies, albeit
chiey pertaining to anuran systematics, have revealed an
apparent underestimation of the biodiversity in these regions
(Surendran and Vasudevan 2015).
The biodiversity that the eastern slopes harbour is
relatively understudied. These leeward slopes rely heavily on
the northeast monsoon (October–December) for precipitation,
as opposed to the western scarps that receive almost 80% of
their rainfall between May–August, during the southwest
monsoon (Anu et al. 2009). This dissimilarity in monsoon-
dependence is hypothesized to have led to phenological
differences amongst some congeneric populations from the
eastern and western slopes (Janani et al. 2017). Consequently,
the eastern slopes implore equally concerted, systematic
biodiversity studies owing to the unique herpetological
assemblages they potentially harbour. Meghamalai Wildlife
Sanctuary (MWS), located on the eastern escarpments of WG,
is a remarkable treasury of herpetofaunal diversity (Bhupathy
and Babu 2013).
History of herpetofaunal studies
The earliest ophidian fauna described from MWS includes
Silybura (now Uropeltis) liura Günther 1875, Silybura
madurensis Boulenger 1878, and Xylophis indicus Beddome
1878, now a putative synonym of X. stenorhynchus. The
dubious taxon Trimeresurus (now Tropidolaemus) huttoni
Smith 1949, described based on a collection of two juvenile
specimens by Angus F. Hutton (1946–1948) from MWS,
has remained unobserved in subsequent herpetofaunal
surveys of the region (Bhupathy et al. 2009, 2011, 2012;
Chandramouli and Ganesh 2010; Hutton and David 2009).
The rst checklist of snakes from Meghamalai was published
by Hutton and David (2009). Subsequent surveys (Bhupathy
et al. 2009, 2011, 2012; Chandramouli and Ganesh 2010)
report 90 species of reptiles. A singular checklist of anuran
Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, Vol. 115: 2018 21-37
22 J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., Vol. 115: 2018
diversity of the region by Srinivasan and Bhupathy (2013)
reports 35 species.
Systematic revisions and recent taxonomic descriptions
of herpetofauna from peninsular India, especially from the
Western Ghats (Biju and Bossuyt 2009; Biju et al. 2008,
2011, 2014a, 2014b; Deepak et al. 2016; Garg et al. 2017;
Vijayakumar et al. 2014), warrant a revalidated herpetofaunal
checklist from MWS. An updated checklist from the region,
collating records from our recent eld surveys (2014–2016)
and previous studies is presented herein. Records of
previously unreported species, with some photographs
and morphological diagnoses, are added to the checklist,
combined with nomenclatural revisions for numerous past
records. The rediscovery of a potentially divergent lineage
of Xylophis bearing the now defunct nomen X. indicus, a
putative synonym of X. stenorhynchus (Günther, 1875) after
140 years, and the discovery of a caecilian (Uraeotyphlus sp.)
from this landscape for the rst time, represent signicant
records in the checklist. Reports of species not observed in
recent surveys (2009–2016) are discussed along with other
taxonomic uncertainties.
MATERIAL AND METHODS
Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary is located between
9°31′–9°58′ N and 77°10′–77°45′ E (Fig. 1) in the leeward
escarpments of the Western Ghats. These hills have an
elevation gradient ranging from c. 200 to 1,900 m above
msl. The major vegetation types include montane shola and
grassland forests, tropical wet evergreen and west coast semi-
evergreen forests, moist mixed deciduous forests, secondary
moist mixed deciduous forests, dry mixed deciduous forests,
Carnatic umbrella thorn forests, and dry deciduous scrub
forests. The escarpments receive most of their rainfall from
the retreating monsoon, while the hilltop plateaus get most
of their precipitation from the southwest monsoon (Bhupathy
and Babu 2013).
Visual and acoustic encounter surveys were carried out
in accordance with permission from the Tamil Nadu Forest
Department. The study area was surveyed at regular intervals
between October 2014 and November 2016. Searches were
timed to synchronize with the activity periods of diurnal,
nocturnal, and crepuscular species (6:00–12:00 hrs and
17:00–23:00 hrs). Potential microhabitats such as stream
banks, under decomposing wood and rocks, leaf litter, stagnant
pools, rocky outcrops, marshy grasslands, bamboo clusters,
and abandoned buildings were examined extensively. Each
habitat type was surveyed at least once every season.
Representative individuals of all the species encountered
were photographed for taxonomic evaluation and in their
natural habitat. Meristic characters were counted by gently
handling live animals, or by using voucher photographs
of taxonomically significant characters. All specimens,
including road kills, were identied based on available
literature (Biju and Bossuyt 2009; Biju et al. 2008, 2011,
2014a, b; Deepak et al. 2016; Garg et al. 2017; Smith 1935,
1943; Vijayakumar et al. 2014; Whitaker and Captain 2008).
The checklist is grouped by order (suborder), family,
genera, and species, each of which is arranged alphabetically.
Specimens belonging to genera that have recently undergone
systematic revision, but with uncertain identities, have been
provisionally prexed with ‘cf (Latin: ‘confer’, meaning
‘comparable to’) before their closest conforming specic
nomen. Taxonomic uncertainty in these specimens is largely
attributed to MWS representing a sampling gap in the
systematic study of these genera across their range. Species
that were originally described from MWS and its environs in
the past have been identied to a specic rank, followed by
‘s.s.’ (Latin: sensu stricto = in the strictest sense) to indicate
a stable circumscription for the nomen. Specimens exhibiting
morphological singularity amongst known congeners have
Fig. 1: Outline map of Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary
and its environs
HERPETOFAUNA OF THE MEGHAMALAI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY: AN UPDATED CHECKLIST
23J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., Vol. 115: 2018
S.No Taxa (A) (B) (C) (D) Distribution Threat
Status
Notes
Order : Squamata
Suborder : Sauria
Family : Agamidae Gray, 1827
1. Calotes calotes (Linnaeus, 1758) + + NE NA
2. Calotes grandisquamis Günther, 1875 + + E LC
3. Calotes rouxii Duméril & Bibron, 1837 + EI LC
4. Calotes versicolor (Daudin, 1802) + + NE NA
5. Monilesaurus acanthocephalus Pal et al. 2018* s.s. + + Revised from C. ellioti
6. Psammophilus blanfordanus (Stoliczka, 1871) + + EI LC
7. Salea anamallayana (Beddome, 1878) + + E LC
8. Sitana visiri Deepak, 2016 s.s. + + EI NA Revised from S. ponticeriana
9. Draco dussumieri Duméril & Bibron, 1837 + + EI LC
Family : Chamaeleonidae Ranesque, 1815
10. Chamaeleo zeylanicus Laurenti, 1768 + + NE LC
Family : Gekkonidae Gray, 1825
11. Cnemaspis gracilis (Beddome, 1870) + EI LC New record
12. Cnemaspis ornata (Beddome, 1870) + + E NT
13. Cnemaspis wynadensis (Beddome, 1870) + ? New record
14. Cnemaspis sp. + ?
15. Dravidogecko anamallensis (Günther, 1875) + E NT New record
16. Hemidactylus aviviridis Rüppell, 1835 + NE NA New record
17. Hemidactylus frenatus Schlegel in Duméril & Bibron,
1836
+ – – + NE LC
18. Hemidactylus leschenaultii Duméril & Bibron, 1836 + + NE NA
19. Hemidactylus parvimaculatus Deraniyagala, 1953 + + NE NA Revised from H. cf. brooki
20. Hemidactylus triedrus (Daudin, 1802) + + NE NA
21. Hemidactylus vanam Chaitanya, Lajmi & Giri 2018* s.s. + + E NA Revised from H. maculatus
22. Hemidactylus sp. + ?
23. Hemiphyllodactylus aurantiacus (Beddome, 1870) + EI LC See discussion
24. Cyrtodactylus collegalensis (Beddome, 1870) + + EI LC Reallocated from Geckoella
Family : Lacertidae Oppel, 1811
25. Ophisops leschenaultii (Milne-Edwards, 1829) + + NE NA Revised from O. leschenaultia
Family : Scincidae Gray, 1825
26. Dasia subcaeruleum (Boulenger, 1891) E EN See discussion
27. Eutropis carinata (Schneider, 1801) + + NE NA
28. Eutropis beddomii (Jerdon, 1870) + EI NA
29. Eutropis macularia (Blyth, 1853) + + NE NA
30. Kaestlea travancorica (Beddome, 1870) + + E LC Reallocated from Scincella
31. Lygosoma punctata (Gmelin, 1799) + NE LC
32. Lygosoma sp. + – – –
33. Ristella travancorica (Beddome, 1870) + E DD New record
Table 1: Collated checklist of the Reptiles of Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary
HERPETOFAUNA OF THE MEGHAMALAI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY: AN UPDATED CHECKLIST
24 J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., Vol. 115: 2018
S.No Taxa (A) (B) (C) (D) Distribution Threat
Status
Notes
Family : Varanidae Merrem, 1820
34. Varanus bengalensis (Daudin, 1802) + + NE LC
Suborder : Serpentes
Family : Boidae Gray, 1825
35. Eryx conicus (Schneider, 1801) + + NE NA Reallocated from Gongylophis
36. Eryx johnii (Russell, 1801) + + NE NA
Family : Colubridae Oppel, 1811
37. Ahaetulla dispar (Gunther, 1864) + + + + E NT
38. Ahaetulla nasuta (Lacépède, 1789) + + + NE NA
39. Ahaetulla perroteti (Duméril, Bibron & Duméril, 1854) + + E EN See discussion
40. Ahaetulla pulverulenta (Duméril, Bibron & Duméril,
1854)
– + – + NE LC
41. Amphiesma stolatum (Linnaeus, 1758) + + NE NA
42. Argyrogena fasciolata (Shaw, 1802) + NE NA
43. Atretium schistosum (Daudin, 1803) + NE LC
44. Boiga beddomei (Wall, 1909) + NE DD New record
45. Boiga ceylonensis (Günther, 1858) + + NE NA
46. Boiga aviviridis Vogel & Ganesh, 2013 + + EI NA
47. Boiga forsteni (Duméril, Bibron & Duméril, 1854) + NE LC New record
48. Boiga nuchalis (Günther, 1875) + + E NA
49. Chrysopelea ornata (Shaw, 1802) + + NE NA
50. Coelognathus helena helena (Daudin, 1803) + + NE NA
51. Coelognathus helena monticollaris (Schultz, 1992) + + + E NA
52. Dendrelaphis tristis (Daudin, 1803) + NE NA
53. Hebius beddomei (Günther, 1864) + + + + E LC Reallocated from Amphiesma
54. Hebius monticola (Jerdon, 1853) + E LC Reallocated from Amphiesma
55. Liopeltis calamaria (Günther, 1858) + NE NA
56. Lycodon aulicus (Linnaeus, 1758) + + NE NA
57. Lycodon avicollis Mukherjee & Bhupathy, 2007 + EI NA New record
58. Lycodon nympha (Daudin, 1803) + + NE NA Reallocated from Dryocalamus
59. Lycodon striatus (Shaw, 1802) + NE NA
60. Lycodon travancoricus (Beddome, 1870) + + + + EI LC
61. Macropisthodon plumbicolor (Cantor, 1839) + + + + NE NA
62. Oligodon arnensis (Shaw, 1802) + + NE NA
63. Oligodon brevicauda Günther, 1862 + + E VU
64. Oligodon taeniolatus (Jerdon, 1853) + + + NE LC
65. Oligodon travancoricus Beddome, 1877 + + + E DD
66. Oligodon venustus (Jerdon, 1853) + + E LC See discussion
67. Ptyas mucosa (Linnaeus, 1758) + + + + NE NA
68. Sibynophis subpunctatus (Duméril, Bibron & Duméril,
1854)
+ – – + NE NA
69. Xenochrophis piscator (Schneider, 1799) + + + + NE NA
Table 1: Collated checklist of the Reptiles of Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary (contd.)
HERPETOFAUNA OF THE MEGHAMALAI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY: AN UPDATED CHECKLIST
25J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., Vol. 115: 2018
S.No Taxa (A) (B) (C) (D) Distribution Threat
Status
Notes
Family : Elapidae Boie, 1827
70. Bungarus caeruleus (Schneider, 1801) + NE NA
71. Calliophis nigrescens Günther, 1862 + + + + E LC
72. Naja naja (Linnaeus, 1758) + + NE NA
73. Ophiophagus hannah (Cantor, 1836) + NE VU
Family : Pythonidae Fitzinger, 1826
74. Python molurus (Linnaeus, 1758) + + + NE NA
Family : Typhlopidae Merrem, 1820
75. Grypotyphlops acutus (Duméril & Bibron, 1844) + + EI LC
76. Indotyphlops braminus (Daudin, 1803) + + NE NA Reallocated from Ramphotyphlops
Family : Uropeltidae Müller, 1832
77. Melanophidium punctatum Beddome, 1871 + + E LC
78. Plectrurus perroteti Duméril, Bibron & Duméril, 1854 + E LC
79. Rhinophis sanguineus Beddome, 1863 + E LC
80. Rhinophis travancoricus Boulenger, 1892 + E EN
81. Uropeltis ceylanica Cuvier, 1829 + E LC Revised from U. ceylanicus
82. Uropeltis ellioti (Gray, 1858) + EI LC
83. Uropeltis liura (Günther, 1875)* s.s. E DD See discussion
84. Uropeltis madurensis (Beddome, 1878)* s.s. + + E NA
85. Uropeltis pulneyensis (Beddome, 1863) + + E LC
86. Uropeltis rubromaculata (Beddome, 1867) + E LC Revised from U. rubromaculatus
87. Uropeltis woodmasoni (Theobald, 1876) + E LC
88. Uropeltis cf. dindigalensis (Beddome, 1877) +
89. Uropeltis cf. phipsoni (Mason, 1888) + See discussion
Family : Viperidae Oppel, 1811
90. Daboia russelii (Shaw & Nodder, 1797) + + + NE NA
91. Echis carinatus (Schneider, 1801) + + NE NA
92. Hypnale hypnale (Merrem, 1820) + + + NE NA
93. Trimeresurus gramineus (Shaw, 1802) + + EI LC
94. Trimeresurus macrolepis Beddome, 1862 + + + + E NT
95. Trimeresurus malabaricus (Jerdon, 1854) + + + + E LC
96. Tropidolaemus huttoni (Smith, 1949)* s.s. E NA See discussion
Family : Pareidae Romer, 1956
97. Xylophis sp. + E DD See results
Order : Testudines
Family : Geoemydidae Theobald, 1868
98. Geochelone elegans (Schoepff, 1795) + NE VU
Family : Testudinidae Batsch, 1788
99. Melanochelys trijuga (Schweigger, 1812) + + NE NT
A) Present study; B) Hutton & David (2009); C) Chandramouli & Ganesh (2010); D) Bhupathy et al. (2009, 2011, 2012).
Distribution: E – Endemic to the Western Ghats; EI – Endemic to India; NE – Not Endemic. Threat status: LC – Least Concern;
DD – Data Decient; VU – Vulnerable; NT – Near Threatened; EN – Endangered; CR – Critically Endangered; NA – Not available.
* – Type locality in MWS and its environs.
Table 1: Collated checklist of the Reptiles of Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary (contd.)
HERPETOFAUNA OF THE MEGHAMALAI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY: AN UPDATED CHECKLIST
26 J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., Vol. 115: 2018
been identied up to the generic rank, pending taxonomic
revision. All other records of taxa belonging to groups
that have not undergone recent genetics-based systematic
revision, have been identified based on morphological
similarities with other congeners and are to be treated as
sensu lato (Latin: in the broad sense), conferring on them a
more inclusive circumscription than sanctioned by current
taxonomic practice.
Threat and endemism status were assessed based on the
IUCN’s Red List (2017) and historical occurrence records
of species, respectively. Annotations are provided for new
records, nomenclatural revisions, and certain specimens that
exhibit morphological singularity from all known congeners.
New records for MWS are indicated by [NR] after species
authority in the annotations. Chresonymy is presented
according to Dubois (2000).
RESULTS
The present collation of herpetofauna accounts for
99 species of reptiles (34 saurians, 63 ophidians, and
2 testudines) represented by 55 genera in 16 families –
Colubridae Oppel with 33 species being the most diverse.
Amphibians were represented by 41 species (40 anurans
and 1 gymnophionan) in 18 genera and 9 families, of which
family Rhacophoridae Hoffman was the most speciose, with
13 species. A total of 13 species in this checklist – 8 reptiles
and 5 amphibians, are additions to lists from the recent past
(Bhupathy et al. 2009, 2011, 2012; Chandramouli and Ganesh
2010; Hutton and David 2009). This includes the rediscovery
of a woodsnake Xylophis sp. and the report of a caecilian
Uraeotyphlus sp. for the rst time from this landscape.
Among reptiles, one species each of the genera Calotes
Cuvier, Hemidactylus Oken, Lygosoma Hardwicke & Gray,
Cnemaspis Strauch, and Xylophis Beddome were identied
up to the generic rank only, owing to notable morphological
differences with all other peninsular Indian and Sri Lankan
congeners (Table 1), as were one species each of the
amphibian genera Duttaphrynus Frost et al., Sphaerotheca
Günther, Fejervarya Bolkay, Uperodon Duméril & Bibron,
Indirana Laurent, Raorchestes Biju et al., and Uraeotyphlus
Peters (Table 2).
The threat status for 8 of the taxa reported from MWS
is listed as Endangered (EN) in IUCN’s Red List (2017)
while 3 taxa are Critically Endangered (CR). MWS
harbours 57 species that are endemic to the Western Ghats,
while 14 others are considered endemic to India. MWS
and its environs are also the type locality for 6 species
of herpetofauna – 4 reptiles and 2 amphibians (Tables 1
and 2).
Select reptiles and amphibians of Meghamalai Wildlife
Sanctuary
Note: Serial numbers against species in this section
correspond to the serial numbers in the checklists (Tables 1
and 2). Numbers given after Class/Order indicate the number
of families within them; numbers in square brackets indicate
the number of genera; numbers in parentheses indicate the
number of species.
Class: Reptilia 16 [55] (99) (Table 1)
Order: Squamata 14 [53] (97)
Family: Agamidae Gray, 1827 [5] (9)
Genus: Monilesaurus Pal et al. 2018 (1)
5. Monilesaurus acanthocephalus Pal et al. 2018 (Fig. 2g)
Calotes ellioti [non Calotes ellioti Günther, 1864] Bhupathy
& Sathishkumar, 2013: 4959
Remarks: A recent taxonomic revision of Calotes from
the Western Ghats identied two new generic lineages,
Monilesaurus and Microauris (Pal et al. 2018). The
individuals from MWS are identied based on type locality
and overall morphological similarity, as Monilesaurus
acanthocephalus.
Genus: Sitana Cuvier, 1829 (1)
8. Sitana visiri Deepak, 2016 (s.s.) (Fig. 2i)
Sitana ponticeriana [non Sitana ponticeriana Cuvier, 1829]
Bhupathy & Sathishkumar, 2013: 4959
Remarks: Populations of Sitana belonging to the plains of
the MWS region were diagnosed as a new species S. visiri
in a recent taxonomic revision of the genus Sitana (Deepak
et al. 2016). Furthermore, Deepak et al. (2016) restrict the
distribution range for S. ponticeriana to the northern plains
of Tamil Nadu state.
Family: Gekkonidae Gray, 1825 [5] (14)
Genus: Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 (4)
11. Cnemaspis gracilis (Beddome, 1870) [NR] (Fig. 2d)
Remarks: Cnemaspis gracilis was identied based on the
following combination of characters: Paired postmentals,
bounded by 2 scales; dorsal scales heterogeneous, intermixed
with large, keeled tubercles in 12 rows; 2 preanal pores
separated by 2 poreless scales; 4 femoral pores on each side
(Manamendra-Arachchi et al. 2007).
13. Cnemaspis wynadensis (Beddome, 1870) [NR]
Remarks: Cnemaspis wynadensis was identied by the
absence of spine-link tubercles on the anks, the lack of
preanal pores and the presence of 6 femoral pores on either
side (Manamendra-Arachchi et al. 2007).
HERPETOFAUNA OF THE MEGHAMALAI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY: AN UPDATED CHECKLIST
27J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., Vol. 115: 2018
Genus: Dravidogecko Smith, 1933 (1)
15. Dravidogecko anamallensis (Günther, 1875) [NR]
(Fig. 2b)
Remarks: Specimens of this monotypic Western Ghats-
endemic genus were identified by the following suite
of characters: undivided, transverse lamellae beneath
moderately dilated feet; lack of enlarged tubercles on the
dorsum; continuous series of preanal-femoral pores in males
(Smith 1935).
Genus: Hemidactylus Oken, 1817 (7)
16. Hemidactylus aviviridis Rüppell, 1835 [NR]
Remarks: This remarkably common, human-commensal
gecko can be differentiated from other congeners by the
absence of tubercles on the dorsum, presence of 11–14
lamellae under the 4th toe and 5–7 femoral pores on each
side (Smith 1935).
19. Hemidactylus parvimaculatus Deraniyagala, 1953
Hemidactylus cf. brookii [non Hemidactylus brookii Gray,
1845] Bhupathy & Sathishkumar, 2013: 4959
Remarks: Southern Indian and Sri Lankan morphotypes
possessing 11–17 femoral pores with 1–3 poreless scales
between them have been demonstrated to be conspecic
with H. parvimaculatus (Lajmi et al. 2016). The “H. brookii
population in MWS was identied as H. parvimaculatus based
on the presence of tubercles on the dorsum; 15(L) and 17(R)
femoral pores separated by one poreless scale between them.
21. Hemidactylus vanam Chaitanya, Lajmi and Giri, 2018
(s.s.) (Fig. 2a)
Hemidactylus maculatus [non Hemidactylus maculatus
Duméril & Bibron, 1836]Bhupathy & Sathishkumar, 2013:
4959
Remarks: This population was recently described as a new
species, H. vanam. It can be distinguished from H. maculatus
by the number of poreless scales separating femoral pores
(10–11 vs. 5–9), the shape of dorsal tubercles (heterogeneous
vs. trihedral throughout) and the presence of a dense
congregation of tubercles on the dorsal aspect of the thigh
(Chaitanya et al. 2018).
Genus: Cyrtodactylus Gray, 1827 (1)
24. Cyrtodactylus collegalensis (Beddome, 1870) (Fig. 2c)
Geckoella collegalensis – Bhupathy & Sathishkumar,
2013:4959
Remarks: Revised from Geckoella collegalensis. Geckoella,
though exclusively terrestrial, is relegated to a subgenus that
is nested within the larger Southeast Asian, chiey arboreal,
Cyrtodactylus radiation (see Wood et al. 2012).
Family: Scincidae Gray, 1825 [5] (8)
Genus: Kaestlea Eremchenko & Das, 2004 (1)
30. Kaestlea travancorica (Beddome, 1870) (Fig. 2j)
Scincella travancoricum – Bhupathy & Sathishkumar, 2013:
4959
Remarks: The genus Kaestlea, a member of the
Sphenomorphus group of lygosomine scincids was described
based on differences in morphological traits with Scincella
Mittleman, 1950. A Group II alpha palate (sensu Greer 1974),
the presence of a clear eyelid, and rudimentary pterygoid teeth
in some congeners, were used in support of this reassignment
(Eremchenko and Das 2004).
Genus: Ristella Gray, 1839 (1)
33. Ristella travancorica (Beddome, 1870) [NR] (Fig. 2k)
Remarks: Skinks of the Western Ghats-endemic genus
Ristella can be identied based on the following suite of
characters: Lower eyelid scaly; no supranasals; claws seem
to completely retract into a sheath; 4 ngers and 5 toes (Smith
1935). Ristella travancorica was identied in the eld based
on a well separated pair of pre-frontals and sharply keeled
dorsal scales, distinguishing it from its congeners.
Family: Colubridae Oppel, 1811 [17] (33)
Genus: Boiga Fitzinger, 1826 (5)
44. Boiga beddomei (Wall, 1909) [NR] (Fig. 3i)
Remarks: Boiga beddomei was distinguished from its two
closest congeners in the Western Ghats – Boiga ceylonensis
(Günther) and Boiga nuchalis (Günther) – by the presence
of 19 midbody dorsal scale rows (vs. 21 in B. nuchalis) and
254 ventral scales (vs. 214–235 in B. ceylonensis) (Smith
1943).
47. Boiga forsteni (Duméril, Bibron & Duméril, 1854)
[NR]
Remarks: A large Boiga with total length up to 2,312 mm,
with scales in 25–29 rows in the midbody, and 102–119
caudal scales (Smith 1943). A specimen was identied as B.
forsteni based on its large size (1,920 mm), 25 mid-body scale
rows in the dorsum and c. 110 subcaudal scales.
Genus: Hebius Thompson, 1913 (2)
53. Hebius beddomei (Günther, 1864) (Fig. 3g)
Amphiesma beddomei – Hutton & David, 2009: 307;
Bhupathy & Sathishkumar, 2013: 4960; Chandramouli &
Ganesh, 2010: 80
Remarks: A recent taxonomic revision of the genus
Amphiesma Duméril, Bibron & Duméril, 1854 rendered it
monotypic, with A. stolatum being the only representative
(see Guo et al. 2014).
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28 J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., Vol. 115: 2018
S.No Taxa (A) (B) Distribution Threat
Status
Notes
Order : Anura
Family : Bufonidae Gray, 1825
1. Duttaphrynus melanostictus (Schneider, 1799) + + NE LC
2. Duttaphrynus microtympanum (Boulenger, 1882) + + E VU
3. Duttaphrynus scaber (Schneider, 1799) + NE LC
4. Duttaphrynus sp. + ?
Family : Dicroglossidae Anderson, 1871
5. Euphlyctis cyanophlyctis (Schneider, 1799) + + NE LC
6. Euphlyctis hexadactylus (Lesson, 1834) + NE LC
7. Hoplobatrachus tigerinus (Daudin, 1802) + + NE LC
8. Sphaerotheca breviceps (Schneider, 1799) + + NE LC
9. Sphaerotheca sp. + –
10. Fejervarya brevipalmata (Peters, 1871) + + E DD
11. Fejervarya mudduraja Kuramoto et al., 2007 + E NA
12. Fejervarya sp. + –
Family : Micrixalidae Boulenger, 1888
13. Micrixalus cf. adonis Biju et al., 2014 + + E NA Revised from M. fuscus
Family : Microhylidae Günther, 1858
14. Microhyla ornata (Duméril & Bibron, 1841) + + NE LC
15. Microhyla rubra Jerdon, 1854 + NE LC
16. Uperodon montanus (Jerdon, 1854) + + E NT Reallocated from Ramanella
17. Uperodon systoma (Schneider, 1799) + + NE LC
18. Uperodon taprobanicus (Parker, 1934) + + NE LC Reallocated from Ramanella
19. Uperodon sp. + ?
Family : Nyctibatrachidae Blommers-Schlösser, 1993
20. Nyctibatrachus manalari Garg et al., 2017*s.s. + + E NA Revised from N. beddomii
21. Nyctibatrachus poocha Biju et al., 2011 s.s. + + E NA Revised from N. aliciae
Family : Ranidae Ranesque, 1814
22. Indosylvirana cf. doni Biju et al., 2014 + + E NA Revised from Hylarana temporalis
Family : Ranixalidae Laurent, 1986
23. Indirana beddomii (Günther, 1876) + E LC
24. Indirana brachytarsus (Günther, 1876) + E EN New record.
25. Indirana semipalmata (Boulenger, 1882) + E LC
26. Indirana sp. + ? E
27. Walkerana leptodactyla (Boulenger, 1882) + + E EN Reallocated from Indirana
Family : Rhacophoridae Hoffman, 1932
28. Ghatixalus magnus Abraham et al., 2008 s.s + + E DD Revised from G. variabilis
29. Polypedates maculatus (Gray, 1830) + + NE LC
30. Polypedates pseudocruciger Das & Ravichandran, 1998 + E LC
31. Pseudophilautus wynaadensis (Jerdon, 1854) + E EN
32. Raorchestes beddomii (Günther, 1876) + + E NT
33. Raorchestes chlorosomma (Biju & Bossuyt, 2009) + E CR New record
Table 2: Collated checklist of the Amphibians of Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary
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29J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., Vol. 115: 2018
S.No Taxa (A) (B) Distribution Threat
Status
Notes
34. Raorchestes dubois (Biju & Bossuyt, 2006) + E VU New record
35. Raorchestes aviocularis Vijayakumar et al., 2014*s.s. E NA
36. Raorchestes griet (Bossuyt, 2002) + + E CR
37. Raorchestes sp. + ? E
38. Rhacophorus calcadensis Ahl, 1927 + E EN New record
39. Rhacophorus malabaricus Jerdon, 1870 + E LC
40. Rhacophorus pseudomalabaricus Vasudevan & Dutta, 2000 + + E CR
Order : Gymnophiona
Family : Ichthyophiidae Taylor, 1968
41. Uraeotyphlus sp. + E New record
A) Present study; B) Srinivasan & Bhupathy (2013).
Distribution: E – Endemic to the Western Ghats; EI – Endemic to India; NE – Not Endemic.
Threat status: LC – Least Concern; DD – Data Decient; VU – Vulnerable; NT – Near Threatened; EN – Endangered; CR – Critically
Endangered; NA – Not Available.
* – Type locality in MWS and its environs.
Table 2: Collated checklist of the Amphibians of Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary (contd.)
54. Hebius monticola (Günther, 1864)
Amphiesma beddomei – Hutton & David, 2009: 307;
Bhupathy & Sathishkumar, 2013: 4960; Chandramouli &
Ganesh, 2010: 80
Remarks: See Hebius beddomei.
Genus: Lycodon Fitzinger, 1826 (4)
57. Lycodon avicollis Mukherjee & Bhupathy, 2007
[NR] (Fig. 3e)
Remarks: This species was identied based on a single
specimen with the following characteristics: single loreal
broadly in contact with internasal but not with eye; 9
supralabials, 3rd–5th in contact with eye and 1st in contact
with nasal; 10 infralabials; 1 preocular, 2 postoculars; 2
anterior and 3 posterior temporals on each side; dorsal scales
in 17:17:15 rows; ventral scales 213, not angulate laterally;
anal plate divided; subcaudals 71, paired (Mukherjee and
Bhupathy 2007).
58. Lycodon nympha (Daudin, 1803)
Dryocalamus nympha – Hutton & David, 2009: 310;
Bhupathy & Sathishkumar, 2013: 4960.
Remarks: The genus Dryocalamus has been provisionally
subsumed with Lycodon to maintain monophyly of the latter
(Figueroa et al. 2016; Wostl et al. 2017).
Family: Typhlopidae Merrem, 1820 [2] (2)
Genus: Indotyphlops Hedges et al. 2014 (1)
76. Indotyphlops braminus (Daudin, 1803)
Ramphotyphlops braminus – Bhupathy & Sathishkumar,
2013: 4959
Remarks: Revised from Ramphotyphlops Fitzinger, 1843
based on distribution, molecular and morphological data
(Hedges et al. 2014). Indotyphlops braminus is now placed
within the subfamily Asiatyphlopinae based on the new
taxonomic framework for scolecophidians suggested by
Hedges et al. (2014).
Family: Uropeltidae Müller, 1832 [4] (13)
Genus: Uropeltis Cuvier, 1829 (9)
81. Uropeltis ceylanica Cuvier, 1829
Uropeltis ceylanicus – Hutton & David, 2009: 303–310
Remarks: Revised from Uropeltis ceylanicus Cuvier
(McDiarmid et al. 1999).
86. Uropeltis rubromaculata (Beddome, 1867)
Uropeltis rubromaculatus – Hutton & David, 2009: 304–310
Remarks: Revised from Uropeltis rubromaculatus Beddome
(McDiarmid et al. 1999).
Class: Amphibia 9 [18] (41)
Order: Anura 8 [17] (40)
Family: Bufonidae Gray, 1825 [5] (9)
Genus: Duttaphrynus Frost et al. 2006 (4)
4. Duttaphrynus sp. (Fig. 4a)
Remarks: A highly aquatic, riparian Duttaphrynus
with a streamlined body, indistinct tympanum and well-
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30 J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., Vol. 115: 2018
developed webbing on the hindlimbs that distinguish
it from its congeners D. melanostictus (Schneider),
D. microtympanum (Boulenger), and D. parietalis (Boulenger)
in the WG region. This population may well represent a new
aquatic, high elevation species and requires taxonomic
assessment.
Family: Micrixalidae Boulenger, 1888 [1] (1)
Genus: Micrixalus Boulenger, 1882 (1)
13. Micrixalus cf. adonis (Fig. 4c)
Micrixalus fuscus [non Ixalus fuscus Boulenger, 1882]
Srinivasan & Bhupathy, 2013: 4975–4977
Remarks: The distribution of M. fuscus is restricted to
populations south of the Shencottah Gap in the Western
Ghats (Biju et al. 2014a). The populations from MWS
could represent Micrixalus adonis Biju et al. 2014,
Fig. 2: Select lizards of Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary: a) Hemidactylus vanam; b) Dravidogecko anamallensis;
c) Cyrtodactylus collegalensis; d) Cnemaspis gracilis; e) Calotes calotes; f) Calotes grandisquamis; g) Monilesaurus acanthocephalus;
h) Salea anamallayana; i) Sitana visiri; j) Kaestlea travancorica; k) Ristella travancorica; l) Lygosoma sp.
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d
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b
e
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k
c
f
i
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31J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., Vol. 115: 2018
a species belonging to the M. fuscus group (Biju et al.
2014a). Micrixalus adonis has been reported from Periyar
Tiger Reserve (PTR), which abuts MWS in its south-
west frontier. Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary represents
a sampling gap in the systematics study of Micrixalus
(Biju et al. 2014a) which, therefore, warrants further
research to determine the taxonomic position of these
populations.
Family: Microhylidae Günther, 1858 [2] (6)
Genus: Uperodon Duméril & Bibron, 1841 (4)
16. Uperodon montanus (Jerdon, 1854)
Ramanella montana – Srinivasan & Bhupathy, 2013:
4975–4977
Remarks: Reassigned from the genus Ramanella Rao &
Ramanna according to the revised systematics of Microhylid
frogs suggested by Peloso et al. (2016).
Fig. 3: Select snakes of Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary: a) Uropeltis pulneyensis; b) Uropeltis madurensis; c) Xylophis sp.;
d) Lycodon travancoricus; e) Lycodon avicollis; f) Oligodon travancoricus; g) Hebius beddomei; h) Coelognathus helena monticollaris;
i) Boiga beddomei; j) Calliophis nigrescens; k) Echis carinatus; l) Trimeresurus macrolepis
HERPETOFAUNA OF THE MEGHAMALAI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY: AN UPDATED CHECKLIST
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d
g
j
b
e
h
k
c
f
i
l
32 J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., Vol. 115: 2018
18. Uperodon taprobanicus (Parker, 1934)
Kaloula taprobanica – Srinivasan & Bhupathy, 2013: 4977
Remarks: Revised from the genus Kaloula Gray according
to the revised systematics of Microhylid frogs of Peloso et
al. (2016).
Family: Nyctibatrachidae Blommers-Schlösser, 1993 [1] (2)
Genus: Nyctibatrachus Boulenger, 1882 (2)
20. Nyctibatrachus manalari Garg et al., 2017 (s.s.)
Nyctibatrachus beddomii [non Nannobatrachus beddomii
Boulenger, 1882]Srinivasan & Bhupathy, 2013: 4975–4977
Remarks: Recent systematic studies on small bodied
Nyctibatrachus reveal that the populations from MWS
represent a distinct species and are therefore reclassied as
Nyctibatrachus manalari (Garg et al. 2017). Further, Biju
et al. (2011) restrict the distribution range for N. beddomii
Fig. 4: Select amphibians of Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary: a) Duttaphrynus sp.; b) Indirana sp.; c) Micrixalus cf. adonis;
d) Uperodon sp.; e) Nyctibatrachus poocha; f) Raorchestes sp.; g) Raorchestes dubois; h) Raorchestes chlorosomma;
i) Ghatixalus magnus; j) Rhacophorus calcadensis; k) Rhacophorus pseudomalabaricus; l) Uraeotyphlus sp.
HERPETOFAUNA OF THE MEGHAMALAI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY: AN UPDATED CHECKLIST
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d
g
j
b
e
h
k
c
f
i
l
33J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., Vol. 115: 2018
to south of the Shencottah Gap in the Western Ghats. The
small bodied Nyctibatrachus reported by Srinivasan and
Bhupathy (2013) are more likely to be conspecic with
N. manalari.
21. Nyctibatrachus poocha Biju et al. 2011 (s.s.) (Fig. 4e)
Nyctibatrachus aliciae [non Nyctibatrachus aliciae Inger et
al., 1984]Srinivasan & Bhupathy, 2013: 4977
Remarks: Reclassified from N. aliciae as reported by
Srinivasan and Bhupathy (2013), which is range restricted to
Ponmudi in Kerala state (Biju et al. 2011). The populations of
medium sized Nyctibatrachus from the MWS are conspecic
with N. poocha (Biju et al. 2011). The populations reported
by Srinivasan and Bhupathy (2013) in all likelihood belong
to N. poocha.
Family: Ranidae Ranesque, 1814 [1] (1)
Genus: Indosylvirana Oliver et al., 2015 (1)
22. Indosylvirana cf. doni
Hylarana temporalis [non Ranatemporalis Günther, 1864]
Srinivasan & Bhupathy, 2013: 4975–4977.
Remarks: The population in MWS belongs to the
Indosylvirana aurantiaca group of Biju et al. (2014)
and is provisionally identied as Indosylvirana cf. doni
based on geographic distribution of the latter and overall
morphological similarity. Indosylvirana temporalis is
now known to be range-restricted to Sri Lanka (Biju et al.
2014b).
Family: Ranixalidae Laurent, 1986 [2] (5)
Genus: Indirana Laurent, 1986 (4)
24. Indirana brachytarsus (Günther, 1876) [NR]
Remarks: This species was identified by its extensive
webbing, relatively shorter upper arm compared with
other similar sized congeners from Western Ghats and its
geographical afnity (Reddy et al. 2002).
Family: Rhacophoridae Hoffman, 1932 [5] (13)
Genus: Ghatixalus Biju et al. 2008 (1)
28. Ghatixalus magnus Abraham et al., 2015 (Fig. 4i)
Ghatixalus variabilis [non Polypedates variabilis Jerdon,
1853]Srinivasan & Bhupathy, 2013: 4975– 4977.
Remarks: Populations of Ghatixalus south of the Palghat
Gap, from Palni Hills and Munnar, were redescribed
as G. asterops Biju et al., 2008 and G. magnus Abraham
et al., 2015.Populations from the MWS were studied
and reported to be conspecic with G. magnus (Abraham
et al., 2015). The distribution of G. variabilis is restricted
to the Nilgiris region, north of the Palghat Gap (Biju et al.
2008).
Genus: Raorchestes Biju et al., 2010 (6)
33. Raorchestes chlorosomma (Biju & Bossuyt, 2009)
[NR] (Fig. 4h)
Remarks: This species was identied in the eld by the
following suite of characters: Absence of supernumerary
tubercles on hand and foot; greyish-green iris; groin brown,
vermiculated with subequal black patches (Biju and Bossuyt
2009).
34. Raorchestes dubois (Biju & Bossuyt, 2006) [NR]
(Fig. 4g)
Remarks: This species was identied in the eld by the
following suite of characters: Well-developed supernumerary
tubercles on all toes; dorsum, lateral and ventral aspects of
forelimb granular; thigh and shank coffee brown, intermixed
with yellow blotches (Biju and Bossuyt 2006).
Genus: Rhacophorus Kuhl & Hasselt, 1822 (3)
38. Rhacophorus calcadensis Ahl, 1927 [NR] (Fig. 4j)
Remarks: A distinct Rhacophorus, diagnosed by pale
greenish brown dorsum and mottling on anks, with webbing
Fig. 5: Xylophis sp. from Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary;
a) Full-body ventral; b) Head dorsal; c) Head lateral;
d) Head ventral
HERPETOFAUNA OF THE MEGHAMALAI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY: AN UPDATED CHECKLIST
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b c d
34 J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., Vol. 115: 2018
of similar coloration between ngers and toes. Skin aps in
fore and hind limbs with a spur on each hindlimb (Ahl 1927).
Order: Gymnophiona 1 [1] (1)
Family: Ichthyophiidae Taylor, 1968 [1] (1)
Genus: Uraeotyphlus Peters, 1879 (1)
41. Uraeotyphlus sp. [NR] (Fig. 4l)
Remarks: This is the rst report of a caecilian from MWS.
This specimen, belonging to the Uraeotyphlus malabaricus
group (Gower and Wilkinson 2007), was identied by the
following suite of characters: Presence of a tail; tentacular
appendage below the nostril; lack of a clear distinction
between primary and secondary annular grooves; 220 annuli
when counted dorsally. It differs from its congeners in the
U. malabaricus group by the number of annuli counted
dorsally (>230 in U. malabaricus and <215 in U. oomeni),
and distance from the type localities of the others (Gower
and Wilkinson 2007). This population could well represent
a new species belonging to the U. malabaricus group, and
requires taxonomic research to establish its correct identity.
Rediscovery of a wood snake Xylophis Beddome, 1878
from MWS
Taxonomic history
Beddome (1878) established the genus Xylophis in the
family Calamaridae, based on a specimen he collected
(BMNH 78.8.2.1 deposited in the Natural History Museum,
London) from “the dense heavy evergreen forests on the
mountains at the south of the Cumbum Valley, Madura
district”. The region Beddome alluded to, falls within the
connes of MWS. This species (also the type species for
genus Xylophis) was described as X. indicus, broadly based
on uniform coloration, c. 136 ventrals [possibly in error
as Gower and Winkler (2007) report 131 ventrals for this
specimen] and 26 [29, according to Gower and Winkler
(2007)] bid subcaudal scales. Xylophis indicus was later
synonymized with X. stenorhynchus by Boulenger (1890),
which has been followed by subsequent workers (e.g., Smith
1943). Specimens referred by Gower and Winkler (2007) to
X. stenorhynchus were collected from Travancore (BMNH
1946.1.14.13, BMNH 1946.1.14.14, BMNH 1946.1.14.15 –
all syntypes, and BMNH 83.1.12.64, CAS 17199 and 17200),
except BNHS 1761 which was from “Paralai Anamallais”,
possibly Paralai tea estate in Valparai, Tamil Nadu state.
Summarized description (Figs 3c, 5ac)
The individual presented herein, was a relatively large
female specimen (Total length c. 235 mm), uniformly dark
brown in life (Fig. 3c). Fifteen smooth scale rows in the
mid-body dorsal region. Head narrow with abruptly tapering
snout and rounded rostral scale. Nasals distinctly divided.
Pre-frontals roughly pentagonal, touching the eye; frontal
sub-triangular; parietals paired, large, with strong mid-line
contact behind frontal (Fig. 5b). Five supralabials with
3rd and 4th touching the eye; 5th supralabial largest, sub-
rectangular. A long, kite-shaped scale resembling a loreal
between eye and nasal. Temporals 1+2 (Fig. 5c). Two pairs
of genials, the anterior much larger, in strong contact and
bordered anteriorly by a diminutive mental scale (Fig. 5d).
Five infralabials, 2nd slightly larger than the 1st. Ventral
scales (counted as per Gower and Winkler 2007) 140, wider
than long, except the 1st which is roughly rhomboidal.
Subcaudals bid and in 18 pairs. Tail terminates abruptly
in a blunt apical scute (Fig. 5a).
Diagnosis
This individual differs from Xylophis perroteti (Duméril,
Bibron & Duméril, 1854) in having 15 dorsal scale rows at
mid-body (vs. 13) and X. captaini Gower and Winkler, 2007
in having 140 ventrals (vs. 106–122), and a much longer
midline contact between the parietals (vs. parietals barely
touching each other). Supercially similar to X. stenorhynchus
(Günther, 1875), this specimen can be distinguished from X.
stenorhynchus sensu stricto by a greater number of ventrals
(140 vs. 120–135), greater number of subcaudals in females
(18 vs. 14 or 15), uniform dorsal coloration that lacks a pale
collar band, and geographical isolation (Gower and Winkler
2007).
The uncollected female individual presented herein
conforms to the Xylophis indicus of Beddome, based on
geographical afnity. It differs from the holotype of X. indicus
by a greater number of ventrals (140 vs. 131). However, this
difference can easily be conned within the wide ranges
in ventral scale numbers ascribed to putative species in
this group (from Gower and Winkler 2007: 106–122 in X.
captaini, 120–135 in X. stenorhynchus). The female specimen
presented also exhibits a lesser number of subcaudals from
the holotype which is male (18 vs. 29) a difference that
can be easily attributed to the sexual dimorphism in tail
length within this group [from Gower and Winkler (2007): X.
captaini, males 17–22 vs. females 10–14; X. stenorhynchus,
males 24–29 vs. females 14 or 15].
Taxonomic status
We have no hesitation in placing this specimen in the
circumscription of Xylophis indicus. However, the validity of
X. indicus, currently a putative synonym of X. stenorhynchus,
still remains equivocal (Gower and Winkler 2007). We
therefore recognize this population only up to the generic rank
in the checklist, pending reassessment of X. indicus using an
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35J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., Vol. 115: 2018
integrative taxonomic approach that employs multiple lines
of evidence.
DISCUSSION
Taxonomic uncertainties
Smith (1943) reported a specimen of Dasia subcaerulea
from MWS – a species that has since not been encountered
from the region, though its type locality is present day
Bodinayakkanur, Theni district, located across the Cumbum
valley. Among the ophidian records, Ahaetulla perroteti
reported by Hutton & David(2009) and Bhupathy &
Sathishkumar (2013) has only been reported otherwise from
the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve (NBR), north of the Palghat
Gap in recent times (Palot 2015; Princy et al. 2017). Similarly,
Uropeltis phipsoni is known with certainty only from the state
of Maharashtra (Whitaker and Captain 2008). Though the
type localities of Uropeltis liura and Tropidolaemus huttoni
are within MWS, both species have not been reported from
here since their original descriptions. While many workers
have alluded to Uropeltis liura from other parts of the
southern Western Ghats based on morphological similarity
(Pyron et al. 2016; Rajendran 1985; Whitaker and Captain
2008), we suggest employment of a comprehensive DNA-
based comparison with freshly collected topotypic material
before establishing conspecificity of these specimens.
Tropidolaemus huttoni remains a prodigious mystery in Indian
ophiology and has not been rediscovered since its original
description. A recent report from Lonavala, Maharashtra,
purportedly of this taxon (Boundy 2008), was shown to be
that of T. wagleri (Ganesh et al. 2014). The report of Oligodon
venustus (Ganesh and Chandramouli 2010) is of particular
interest. Populations in NBR are considered conspecic to O.
venustus (Santhoshkumar et al. 2017), despite its type locality
being emended to North Canara district in Karnataka state
(Smith 1943). The specimens reported from MWS possibly
warrant reclassication pending further taxonomic studies.
The taxa identied herein only up to the generic rank
(Tables1 and 2) or those circumscribed as sensu lato, could
represent undescribed species, and necessitate concerted
collections-based studies to resolve their taxonomy.
Conservation concerns
Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary harbours a fascinating
assemblage of herpetofauna across a steep elevation gradient
(200–1,900 m above msl) and diverse forest types. The
Meghamalai plateau is a popular hill station among the
locals and is highly affected by anthropogenic pressure. Tea
cultivations in the upper reaches have ensured protracted and
unremitting deforestation in this landscape, posing a serious
threat to wildlife. Microhabitats such as bamboo forests,
rocky outcrops and marshy grasslands, generally bereft of
large trees, are considered suitable for human exploitation.
In recent times, large rocky outcrops, the preferred habitat
for many reptilians including Hemidactylus vanam, have
been carved out in an effort to widen the approach road to
Meghamalai hill station. These ecosystems nurture multiple
species – habitat specialists whose survival depends wholly
on the conservation of these so called “frivolous” forests.
In the light of this remarkable biodiversity, MWS deserves
a focused conservation action plan to protect the landscape
from anthropogenic abuse.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This work was funded in its entirety by The Rufford
Foundation (https://www.rufford.org) through a small grant
accorded to RC, VG, and DC. We thank the Tamil Nadu Forest
Department for granting us permits to work in this region. We
are indebted to VANAM, a Theni based non-governmental
organization, for their uninching support with logistics.
We thank Ram Gothandapani, Deepak Veerappan, Amatya
Sharma, Nikhil Gaitonde, Anithra and Surya Narayanan
for helping with eldwork and photography. RC thanks
Vanasundara Pandian for his help with eldwork, logistics
and for looking out for large mammals during eldwork. We
thank Ishan Agarwal, Harikrishnan, and Aniruddha Datta-
Roy for their valuable comments on the manuscript.
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HERPETOFAUNA OF THE MEGHAMALAI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY: AN UPDATED CHECKLIST
Recommended Citation
Chaitanya, R., Akshay Khandekar, Daniel G. Caleb, Nilanjan Mukherjee, Avrajjal Ghosh and Varad Giri (2018): Herpetofauna of the Meghamalai
Wildlife Sanctuary, Southern Western Ghats, India: an updated checklist with annotations on taxonomy and nomenclature. J. Bombay Nat. Hist.
Soc. Vol. 115. doi: 10.17087/jbnhs/2018/v115/122716
  
... All other records known from the south are attributed to either C. collagelensis or C. cf. speciosus based only on photographic records (Srinivasulu et al. 2014;Ganesh and Arumugam 2016;Bhupathy and Sathishkumar 2013;Chaitanya et al. 2018). Members of this complex have highly conserved morphology and the recent descriptions were mainly based on the colour pattern and genetic data (Agarwal 2016;Agarwal et al. 2016). ...
... This further warrants investigation of the other populations below 10 o latitudes that are previously reported as C. collegalensis and C. cf. speciosus (Ganesh and Arumugam 2016;Bhupathy and Sathishkumar 2013;Chaitanya et al. 2018). ...
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