In a first-of-its-kind study in Telangana, researchers at Osmania University have scientifically documented the presence of species of frogs, toads, lizards and snakes seen in the state.
They found the state is home to 40 species of snakes, 35 species of lizards, 16 species of frogs and toads (belonging to four families), six species of turtles and tortoises, and one species of crocodiles.
Their research paper, published in the Journal of Threatened Taxa, also documented three species of lizards–Hemidactylus flavicaudus, Hemidactylus xericolus, and Hemidactylus aemulus–as endemic to Telangana.
Dr Chemala Srinivasulu, an associate professor of zoology who heads the university’s Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Studies (CBCS), said the three species of lizards were discovered in the past two years. “There is something like a sittana thondalu or a fan-throated lizard that was discovered from southern areas of Nagarjuna Sagar and also seen on the northern side. Something like a golden gecko (also a lizard) was reported near Bhadrachalam. We know these exist but we may need more surveys to find their presence,” the professor told indianexpress.com.
According to Srinivasulu, this was the first time such a study had been taken up in the state to document frogs, toads, lizards and snakes, which are collectively known as herpetofauna. The paper was co-authored by Dr G Chethan Kumar, who worked on endemic, large-bodied Hemidactylus lizards for his PhD under Dr Srinivasulu’s supervision.
The CBCS recently completed a similar study on fishes of Telangana and is next working on birds of the state. Herpetofauna plays a very important role in the ecosystem as they help in controlling populations of pests, insects and rodents that damage both standing crops and stored grains, said the professor, who is also a member of the state biodiversity board.
Stating that the information on the protection status of species is important as many of the reptiles are illegally collected, sold and killed for various reasons, the researchers have called for further scientific research to confirm the occurrence and disappearance of certain species in the state.
During the study, the researchers found reptile species such as Crocodylus palustris, Geochelone elegans, Nilssonia gangetica, Nilssonia leithii and Eutropis ashwamedhi as vulnerable to extinction; Duttaphrynus hololius and Platyceps bholanathi as data-deficient; and Melanochelys trijuga and Eutropis nagarjunensis as near-threatened.