Alanallur: The Western Ghats that fringes Kerala and a few other Indian states are rich in biodiversity. The presence of the purple frog, an endangered species indigenous to the Western Ghats, was found at Edathanattukara near Alanallur in Palakkad district this year also.
Two purple frogs were discovered on the outskirts of the forest area that lies close to the buffer zone of Silent Valley by C.G. Vipin, an environmental enthusiast and Chemistry teacher at Govt. HSS, Edathanattukara and Nihal Jebin, a petrochemical engineering graduate and a teacher of Kallady High School, Mannarkkad.
Vipin and Nihal who had reached the forest area at night managed to click the photographs of the mating frogs. The species, locally called ‘Pathala Thavala,’ has unique mating behaviours.
Vipin and Nihal were inspired to take up the quest for Purple Frog after their experience in participating in the amphibian and reptilian census of Kerala. They have been conducting explorations for the Purple Frogs in the same region before the onset of monsoon season for the past four years. Only once could they manage to get another mating picture of the frogs.
Though the purple frogs were familiar to the humans living close to the forest areas of the Western Ghats for a long time, it was introduced to the scientific world only in 2003. It was then christened with the scientific name Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis through the efforts of Dr S.D. Biju, an amphibian biologist, wildlife conservationist and head of the Systematics Lab at the Dept. of Environmental Studies, University of Delhi.
Dr Biju is dubbed as the ‘frogman of India’ by the media due to his passion for the frogs.
Though the early studies had revealed these frogs reside underground, more studies about their procreation and other habits were conducted only some 10 years later. Though the species has been recorded to be foraging on termites, earthworms and small insects underground, a clear picture of their food or foraging pattern were yet to emerge. It is as if they have a lifecycle and procreation adapted to the climatic conditions of the Western Ghats.
The purple frogs are usually found near the streams or small waterfalls that appear during the monsoons, but which remain dried up during summer. Their mating and procreation take place when these streamlets reappear during the first rains, thus enabling to save the tadpoles from the attack of larger fish and other forms of water fauna that may be present in the normal streams and rivers.
The purple frog is known locally under many names including Pathal, Kuravan, Kurathi, Kotran, Pathayal, Pannimookkan and Parameen. It has also been found in the neighbouring Tamil Nadu.