Biodiversity boost: Researchers found 3 new species in Mumbai, 21 in Maharashtra in 2016 | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Biodiversity boost: Researchers found 3 new species in Mumbai, 21 in Maharashtra in 2016

Mumbai city news: Mumbai’s environmentalists welcomed the discoveries, especially those found at SGNP and Aarey Colony

mumbai Updated: Jul 19, 2017 12:56 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Ghatiana splendida - a crustacean species discovered in Sawantwadi, Sindhudurg.
Ghatiana splendida - a crustacean species discovered in Sawantwadi, Sindhudurg.(HT)

Researchers discovered three new animal species in Mumbai in 2016, according to a report by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) under the Union environment ministry.

The report, titled ‘Animal Discoveries 2016 – New Species and New Records’ published in June, found one species of Annelida, a ringed or segmented worm species called Hetreospio indica from Madh Island, Mumbai.

The Amitus vignus. (HT)

The second discovery was a new wasp species called Amitus vignus from Bhiwandi. It belongs to the hymenopteran (insects, comprising the sawflies, wasps, bees, and ants) order of the Platygastridae family.

Reptile species Cyrtodactylus varadgirii was discovered at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) and Aarey Milk Colony. It was named after Dr Varad Giri, former curator of the Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai (BNHS), for his contributions to Indian herpetology.

As many as 21 new species — two new species of spiders, six species of crabs, one species of butterflies, four species of sawflies and wasps, three species of bugs, two species of fish and three reptiles — were discovered across Maharashtra, in the Sahyadri range and at Sindhudurg, Kolhapur, Amravati, Malvan, Matheran, Devrukh, Guravwadi, Satara, Pune and Ratnagiri.

One of the most startling discoveries was a thread-legged assassin bug earlier found at Sri Lanka. It was spotted in India for the first time and identified based on the species collected from Satara’s caves.

Myiophanes greeni - the thread-legged assassin bug. (HT)

State forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar told HT that new species were being discovered at Aarey and SGNP despite Mumbai’s massive urban sprawl — a matter of global significance. “We are delighted that 21 new animal species were discovered in Maharashtra. To make this study more detailed, our state biodiversity board has started working to identify plant and animal species from each village in the state by forming a local biodiversity committee,” he said. “Private companies will fund this project at the local level. Within a year, we will have a detailed checklist of more newly discovered species from the state.”

The report identified more than 500 new species of plants and animals in India. Of these 194 were identified for the first time in the world. As many as 313 new species of animals were identified, 83 for the first time in the world. As many as 319 species of plants were identified, 113 for the first time in the world.

Lemyra (Thyrgorina) pseudoburmanica - a butterfly species discovered in Matheran. (HT)

“Various dedicated teams of scientists from ZSI’s headquarters and regional centres assisted by scientists from across the country have documented the list of animal species. ZSI’s scientists have collected more than a million specimens belonging to various groups of animals from far corners of the country. I congratulate the team for a commendable job,” said Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union environment minister.

Mumbai’s environmentalists welcomed the discoveries, especially those from SGNP and Aarey. “While SGNP is protected, Aarey colony is also home to a large number of wild animals.The area and its biodiversity needs to be protected at any cost,” said Godfrey Pimenta, trustee, Watchdog Foundation.

Cyrtodactylus varadgirii was discovered at Aarey Colony and SGNP. (HT)

HT had reported on May 13 that the jumping spider (Piranthus decorus) had been discovered at Aarey Milk Colony after 122 years, by independent researcher and wildlife photographer, Rajesh Sanap. It was first spotted in Burma, now Myanmar, in 1895.