Posts Tagged 'western ghats'

Indian Grey Hornbill—the seed dispersers

Posted by on 07 Aug 2016 | Category: photography, prakriti

There are about 54 species of hornbills in the world, out of which 9 occur in India. The hornbill pictured here is the Indian Grey Hornbill, which is common across the Indian subcontinent, except the wettest (Western Ghats and northeast) and the driest (northwest) parts of the country.

Indian Grey Hornbill, Ocyceros birostris at Pune, Maharashtra

Breeding/Nesting
Hornbills have unique breeding habits, where the female confines herself into a nest cavity in a tree, with only a narrow opening through which the male shares the food throughout the nesting period. For the Indian grey hornbills, the total nesting period is about 87 days, where the female is confined to the nest cavity for an average of 76 days. Most of the grey hornbill nests are in hollows of the Mahagony tree family, located nearby riverine habitats. Deforestation, agriculture and other developmental activities have restricted the range of many species like these hornbills.

Grey hornbills as seed dispersers
Hornbills play a key role in seed dissemination, germination and regeneration of trees. This is because they are mainly frugivores (fruit consuming) and can break up/swallow large fruits, and regurgitate the seeds without damaging, making them the perfect dispersers. Since they travel long distances in search of fruits, they are capable of moving these seeds to distant locations.

Grey hornbills are effective seed dispersers for trees such as Premna tomentosa (a teak like tree), Putranjiva, Fern trees and even Sandalwood trees! Many of these are medicinally and commercially valuable trees but they generate very few seeds and propagation depends on birds like these hornbills.

Mid-air play and fight
Like many other hornbills, the grey hornbill has a long curved bill, which has a casque (helmet) on the top. The male hornbills engage in midair clashes where they jar against each other’s casques to establish their dominance and as part of their social play. This behaviour is known as aerial jousting.

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olive ridley turtles—and dinosaurs

Posted by on 27 Mar 2016 | Category: prakriti

Watching these Olive Ridley turtle hatchlings making their first steps to the sea is an emotional experience!

Olive Ridley Turtle hatchling, Velas, Maharashtra

Olive Ridley turtles are among the five species of marine turtles which are known to inhabit Indian coastal waters and islands. Odisha on the eastern coast of India hosts one of the largest mass nestings (known as arribadas) of these turtles, supporting a nesting population of probably more than half a million.

There are Olive Ridley turtle populations elsewhere in the Indian Ocean too, scattered around from Sri Lanka to Kerala to Pakistan on the west coast. We went to one of these nesting sites or “rookeries”, snuggled amid a laid-back village called Velas, on the coast of Maharashtra. While half a million turtles nest on the Odisha coast, only a few hundreds visit the Maharashtra coast. Conserving these few turtles are important as they are critically endangered species.

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the mother’s day spider

Posted by on 15 May 2011 | Category: photography, prakriti

Mother. Struggling to carry its egg to a safe position.

theridula angula spider
The Mother’s Day Spider

Species: theridula angula Family: theridiidae
Common Name: Pearl Spider
Location: Kottayam, Kerala

the lemon emigrant

Posted by on 16 Mar 2011 | Category: photography, prakriti

lemon emigrant butterfly, western ghats

It is lemony, and it is a migrant. Migration could be one of its strategy to deal with adverse seasonal changes, like the tropical rainfall. It also exhibits seasonal dimorphism: dark yellow colors(form crocale) in wet summer season and pale yellow colors (form pomane) in dry winter season. It is one of the mechanisms by which insects cop up with adverse seasonal changes. It could be either to adjust body temperature and metabolic rate or as a means for better camouflage.
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the stone suckers

Posted by on 24 Feb 2011 | Category: prakriti

The stone suckers (sp. garra mullya ,malayalam: kalle-mutti) are one of our favorite fish species. They get their name from their habit of sticking to the rocky substratum in the streams. If you dip your legs into some of the streams or rivers in the western ghats/kerala with rocky substrates, chances are that you get tickled by these fishes lapping up your feet. They will give you a wonderful pedicure!

silver algae eater, garra mullya
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