In pics: Rare birds, animals, insects, Mumbai’s Aarey Milk Colony is real-life jungle book | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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In pics: Rare birds, animals, insects, Mumbai’s Aarey Milk Colony is real-life jungle book

Mumbai city news: Wildlife photographer, Rajesh Sanap, photographed a male specimen of the jumping spider, which was first found in 2015 in Aarey

mumbai Updated: May 31, 2017 12:37 IST
Badri Chatterjee
The male specimen photographed at Mumbai’s Aarey Milk Colony in 2015.
The male specimen photographed at Mumbai’s Aarey Milk Colony in 2015.(Rajesh Sanap )

The recent discovery of a species of a jumping spider at Aarey Milk Colony, 122 years after it was first spotted in Burma, now Myanmar, brought back the attention to Mumbai’s green lung.

Even as the Maharashtra government contemplates changing the land-use of the colony from a no-development zone to a commercial zone to allow infrastructure projects such as the Metro car-shed and stabling lines for the Metro III (Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ) project, here’s a look at Aarey’s biodiversity:

1. On Monday, an independent researcher and wildlife photographer, Rajesh Sanap, photographed a male specimen of the jumping spider, which was first found in 2015.

At that time, it was not clear if it was rare species. During surveys in 2016, a female spider of the species was found in the same locality.

The female Piranthus decorus. (Rajesh Sanap )

The species has now been identified as Piranthus decorus, last seen in Burma in 1895. The results have been accepted for publication in Acta Arachnologica, a Japanese journal of Arachnology (study of spiders) and will be published in August issue of the journal in this year.

Aarey’s current biodiversity
  • 77 different avifauna (birdlife) species
  • 90 different types of spiders
  • 5 species of Tarantula
  • 6 species of scorpions
  • 86 species of butterflies – Plain tiger, striped tiger, common crow, chocolate pansy, common mormon to name a few
  • 6 species of venomous snakes
  • Caeciliaus, rare amphibian discovered at the interiors of Aarey colony
  • 10 rarest species of birds found in Aarey –
  • Hoopoe
  • Indian Roller
  • Indian Blackbird
  • Grey Hornbill
  • Chestnut trail Starlings
  • Rosy Starlings
  • Glossy Ibis
  • Loten’s Sunbird
  • Spotted Owlets
  • Orange headed ground thrush

A Swedish arachnologist, Tamerlan Thorell, spotted the species in Tharrawaddy, Burma (then part of British India). Jumping spiders comprise 13% of the global spider diversity and family Salticidae under which they are classified is the largest family of spiders.

RESEARCHERS SPEAK

“There is immense scope for research related to wildlife and environment at Aarey Colony and the list has just started being collated. The state government needs to realise that changing the land use of this green lung will severely dent the possibility of safeguarding this biodiversity. If development activities are allowed, it might be destroyed forever,” said Rajesh Sanap, independent researcher and wildlife photographer.

Idiops rubrollimbatus (male) was discovered in 2012. (Rajesh Sanap and Zeeshan Mirza)

2. Rediscovered, at Aarey

1) Jumping Spider: Piranthus decorus (rediscovered after 122 years)

2) Tarantula: Haploclastus validus (rediscovered after 110 years)

3) Trapdoor spider: Idiops bombayensis (rediscovered after 110 years)

4) Tarantula: Pleasiophrictus millardi (discovery of female after 100 years)

Heterophrictus aareyensis was discovered at Aarey in 2014. (Rajesh Sanap and Zeeshan Mirza)

3. Mammals at Aarey: The green lung boasts of leopard, spotted deer, rusty-spotted cat, jungle cat, palm civet, small Indian civet, Indian mongoose.

A jackal spotted at Aarey. (HT)

It also has jackal, wild boar, Indian Palm Squirrel, Bonnet Macaque, Rhesus Macaque, common Langur, flying fox and common Pipistrelle (Bats)

A leopard spotted in Aarey. (Nikit Surve)

(Source: Rajesh Sanap, Zeeshan Mirza and John Caleb research associate with the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore)