A dozen tree frogs of totally new species and a bush frog species which was considered extinct since it was last reported 100 years back have been discovered in the forests of Western ghats from Kerala, TamilNadu, Karnataka, Goa ,Maharashtra and part of Gujarat.
Amphibian researchers S.D.Biju of Delhi University, Systematics Lab and Franky Bossyuyt of the Amphibian Evolution Lab of the Brussels University have made the discoveries. It is the result of 10 years extensive field study in the Western Ghats throughout its 1600 kilometers range. The findings have been reported in the latest issue of Zoological Journal of Linnean Society, London.
Talking to the Hindustan Times S.D.Biju said, "Out of the twelve new species at least half of them are in the endangered category simply because of habitat destruction."
"These tree frogs are widely distributed throughout the South Asian region and is a complex group. It is very sensitive to the habitat change and if you make the smallest change in the habitat like cutting a few bushes that can directly affect their population getting depleted." he said.
"Our finding is an extremely important finding to highlight the importance of extensive field research documenting the vanishing diversity of India. People only lament for tigers,leopards, elephants the large mammals - life of a mammal and a frog is same for the people who want to save bio diversity,"he added.
From India since Independence only two publications describing not more than three new vertebrates (amphibian) species had been reported at a time.This is the first time twelve species are being described in a publication,he said.
The species number for frogs would jump now from around 260 to over 272, he added.
Biju said that many of the names of the new frog species have been coined by him like Philautus chotta (meaning small in Hindi the size of the frog being 16.5mm to 17.5 mm), Philautus jayarami on the name of wildlife photographer K.Jayaram,Philautus chlorosomma for the rare green eyed frog, Philautus coonoorensis for the frog from the Nilgiri hills, Philautus marki referring to his British friend Mark Wilkinson. The genus Philautus means beautiful, he added.
The extinct species which has been re discovered is Travancore bushfrog,he said . It was rediscovered from a highly degraded environment in its original locality, he added.
Biju has discovered 25 frogs till date along with his collaborators including Purple frog in 2003.