The proposed car shed project by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) at Aarey will not only lead to the loss of 2,298 trees, but also threaten the area’s bio-diversity.
Aarey Colony, being a riparian - with water streams – forest, is home to a variety of different species, which have not been documented yet.
Recently, a research journal by Zeeshan Mirza, research associate with the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, documented three new species present in Aarey - Idiops rubrolimbatus (trapdoor spider), Lychas aareyensis (scorpion) and Heterophrictus aareyeneis (tarantula).
Python (Photo credit: Yogendra Satam)
“For Mumbaiites, their backyard has tremendous potential for discovery of new organisms. Recently, there are several new spiders that we have discovered, however, further taxonomic work needs to be done,” said Mirza.
In order to facilitate conservation of the biodiversity, a detailed documentation project, initiated in 2007 and completed in 2010, by Mirza and Rajesh Sanap, looks at the various anthropogenic (man-made) activities resulting in heavy loss to the biodiversity in the area. A report was submitted to the state government and forest department about the findings.
“Bird life is rich in Aarey with 77 different species present. With more than 90 different types of spiders, six species of scorpions, 86 species of butterflies and six species of venomous snakes,” said Anand Pendharkar, who is putting together a list of the biodiversity in Aarey with inputs from Mirza’s research.
A rare amphibian, Caeciliaus, was discovered recently in the interiors of Aarey colony. “It is a snake-like amphibian that generally lays its eggs near water bodies. Such species are found in less numbers across the country,” added Mirza.
Aarey attracts a host of migratory birds and dragonflies coming in from the Himalayas or parts of southern Europe.
“Extinction is a part of life, but in the name of development, we are aggravating it. Before it becomes worse, it should just be left in peace,” said Mirza.
Lychas Aareyensis. (Photo credit: Zeeshan Mirza & Rajesh Sanap)
Home to many known and unknown species:
* Bird life is rich in Aarey with 77 different species present
* 90 different types of spiders
* Six species of scorpions - Lychas aareyensis is the recent discovery
* 86 species of butterflies – Plain tiger, striped tiger, common crow, chocolate pansy, common mormon to name a few
* Six species of venomous snakes – recent discovery of an Indian rock python
* Caecilian, rare amphibian discovered recently at the interiors of Aarey colony
Indian Violet Tarantula. (Photo credit: Zeeshan Mirza & Rajesh Sanap)
Some of the rarest species of birds found in Aarey:
* Indian Roller
* Indian Blackbird
* Grey Hornbill
* Chestnut trail Starlings
* Rosy Starlings
* Glossy Ibis
* Loten’s Sunbird
* Spotted Owlets
* Orange headed ground thrush
Idiops Rubrollimbatus Male. (Photo credit: Zeeshan Mirza & Rajesh Sanap)
The new species that have been found at Aarey:
1) Idiops rubrolimbatus (trapdoor spider)
2) Lychas aareyensis (scorpion)
3) Heterophrictus aareyeneis (tarantula)
Rare species that have been rediscovered at Aarey:
1) Tarantula- Haploclastus validus- found after 110 years
2) Trapdoor spider- Idiops bombayensis- found after 110 years
3) Tarantula- Pleasiophrictus millardi- discovery of a female after 100 years
4) Interesting records/ natural history data on the ground gecko Geckoella cf. collegalensis
Heterophrictus Aareyensis. (Photo credit: Zeeshan Mirza & Rajesh Sanap)
Haploclastus Validus. (Photo credit: Zeeshan Mirza & Rajesh Sanap)
Caecilian. (Photo credit: Zeeshan Mirza & Rajesh Sanap)