Recent survey spots species of fauna never found in Pune before at micro and macro habitats on campus
A mid the sea of concrete triggering habitat destruction and climate change in Pune, there is a green island in the heart of the city that still holds fort. And, it’s right inside Fergusson College. A recent survey of the college campus has revealed that the area supports a rich biodiversity, even identifying some uncommon and previously unknown species of fauna that had not been found earlier, either at the campus or in the entire city.Ashish Nerlekar, a former student and one of the researchers from the team, offered, “We recently carried out intensive surveys as a team at regular intervals per month. Along with this, we also used previous records to do a consolidated review of all the fauna that has been seen in this campus.“

The other researchers who worked on the survey -conducted between June 2011 and June 2014 -were Ashwin Warudkar, G G Gowande, S S Salve, A Raut, S R Patankar and environmentalist Dr Sanjeev Nalawade.The findings were published in the Zoo’s Print journal last week.

The research found that the rich faunal diversity in the campus can be attributed to an array of macro and micro habitats like natural scrub vegetation, exotic planted woodland, old wooden ledges, crevices of old buildings and so on. “Among the geckos spotted here, a small population of Cnemaspis cf. mysoriensis, commonly called dwarf gecko, was recorded. This is the first sighting of the species from Pune city and the possibility of it being introduced can not be ruled out. This finding also highlights the ability of these geckos to naturalise in an urban environment,“ Nerlekar stressed.

Nalawade, who is also head of the college’s geography department, added, “We also found another type of reptile called snake skink here. It is rare and endemic to this region (India, Bangladesh and Myanmar). Besides that, the first survey of the birds conducted by me in 1998 had shown 90 species; now, these students have found almost 137.There was also a flock of chestnuttailed starling seen for the first time in the present survey.“

It’s not just birds and reptiles, even butterflies and spiders have shown up on this recent survey list. “The violin spider, for which there are no official records published from Pune, was found for the first time in this survey.The spider is from the genus Loxoscelus, which also has clinical importance. The bite of these spiders can be harmful and need treatment. But, such incidents are very rare since one scarcely comes in contact with the spider,“ said Warudkar, who is also a former student.

Apart from the additions of notrecorded-before species to the list, some species also had to be removed.The striped hyena, which was recorded in 1970, or the four-horned antelope found decades ago are nowhere to be seen now. An Egyptian vulture pair were regularly seen perching on the main buildinglibrary till around 2004, after which they vanished. Similarly, a red-headed vulture was also seen soaring on the campus in 2004. Sadly, diclofenac has claimed most of the vulture population in the country.

Source : Mirror