Many species of frogs in Munnar faces extinction

Sunday, Jan 3, 2016,13:37 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Kochi | Nearly 50 per cent of around 36 different species of frogs found in Munnar region of Western Ghats are threatened by extinction, says conservationists, A frog census undertaken by the Munnar Forest Division in collaboration with the Conservation Research Group (St Albert’s College, Kochi) on December 30 to monitor the population of the ‘Critically Endangered Toad-skinned frog Indirana phrynoderma’ also found that the species in reality is more threatened than the tiger.

This frog is restricted within 100 sq km and is found only in small fragments of tropical rain forests in the Anamalai Hills, specifically at Munnar. There are nearly 36 different species of frogs in Munnar of which nearly 50 per cent are threatened by extinction. The toad-skinned frog along with the Anamalai gliding frog (Rhacophorus pseudomalabaricus), Raorchestes chlorosomma, Raorchestes griet, Raorchestes munnarensis and Raorchestes resplendens are the critically endangered species in the region, a release issued by the researchers said.

The team members, who conducted the survey, included Arun Kanagavel, Sethu Parvathy, Rajendran K and Rajan S. Since amphibians are excellent indicators of habitat quality, monitoring the population of this rare frog will give us an indication of the status of the shola-grassland ecosystems of Munnar in the years to come, it said.

Although small, measuring just 4.5cm, the toad-skinned frog is very specialised it has its own, very particular, set of habitat requirements. It is a terrestrial species found associated with leaf litter at high elevation tropical rain forests. Being a habitat specialist, it can be a model species to help promote habitat conservation. The Anamalai and Cardamom Hills were in the distant past a pristine rain forest, but in the early 1900s it was almost entirely converted to tea plantations, the release said.