The Dancing Frog Project of India 

Picture of two dancing frogs on a rock by Samyamee Sreevathsa

In the year 2015, while I was working on an Environment Impact Assessment project in the Western Ghats of India, my advisor Dr Gururaja pointed out the Kottigehar Dancing Frog Micrixalus kottigeharensis to me. I still remember that day quite vividly. We parked our car on the roadside. It wasn’t an easy place to park. There were huge potholes on the road and we had to scan the area before we found a safe place. The rains seemed to have subsided, however, there was still light, steady drizzle. We walked a mile away from the road and reached a medium-flowing stream in a dense, canopy-covered area. The sun was out by now. There were still some patchy grey clouds that diffused the sunlight and made for the perfect dance stage. As I walked along the trail, I saw human litter – empty shampoo sachets, beer bottles and rags lying around, sullying the newly washed forest. According to Gururaja, there were Micrixalus frogs calling in the streams. So we decided to sit along the rocks and wait for the show. I quickly grabbed my camera and binocular to witness the spectacular dance. Gururaja kept asking me to hear the calls but my less-than-awesome hearing skills just couldn’t make out the feeble “keeri-keeri” croaks amidst the flowing stream. With immense focus and concentration, after what seemed like an eternity, I was finally able to see the white vocal sacs of the micrixalus shine against the backdrop of forest green. And there it was, flashing at me! It stood on a rock approximately 10 meters away – calling out loud and occasionally extending its lower limb – a behaviour that scientists call foot-flagging. I was spellbound by the frog’s performance – it was unlike anything I’d ever seen before! Are you looking for vinyl cutting machine? In vinylcuttingmachineguide.com you can find the features of different model of machines, in that way you can take the smarter decision.

On my way back, Gururaja told me about all the spectacular work that he had done on his paper on Micrixalus frogs in the year 2014. Upon coming back from the field, I read up about the evolutionary uniqueness of the frog and that it had very limited distribution, restricted to the state of Karnataka in India. Today, most habitats of this particular frog lie outside the designated protected area boundaries. It is also known to reside in the relic forests with myristica swamps in Kathlekan, a protected area this frog calls home. Today, Micrixalus frogs are facing threats just like the many other species that reside in the forests of the Western Ghats of India. Frogs, as we all know, are specialised animals that exhibit affinity towards particular habitat characteristics. For Micrixalus, this could mean primary and secondary streams with high canopy cover. Knowing the fact that quantifying microhabitats could be a challenging task in ecological studies, I have decided to take up this challenge. In my project with the EDGE of Existence program, I explore the habitat characteristics of this frog and also look at the potential species distribution in the state of Karnataka.

Picture by Jyoti Das

Currently, very little is known about the presence of these species and the threats they are facing. Looking at the habitats during my preliminary surveys, I am certain that the growing human population, associated anthropogenic litter and the pressures of infrastructure development in a rapidly developing country like India are hugely worrisome. There is no conservation action plan in place for this species. I plan to scientifically study major threats for my EDGE species and chalk out necessary solutions that could help in the survival and longevity of the frog’s population. With my EDGE project, I also plan to bridge the knowledge gap between local communities, scientists and other key stakeholders and bring them together to conserve critical amphibian habitats. In my opinion, Micrixalus kottigeharensis has the potential to be designated as the target species for the conservation of all amphibian habitats in India. If I were to help make this possible, I shall sleep in blissful peace, listening to the croaks and caws of these so-called ugly species that have swept me off my feet! I must say, that I cannot ask for more than an opportunity to scientifically study this unique species with the help of Fondation Segre.

This blog was published on ZSL’s website, read it here – https://www.zsl.org/blogs/conservation/the-dancing-frogs-of-india

Read more about my work at https://www.edgeofexistence.org/fellow/madhushri-mudke/

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‘Frogs of Manipal’ is Now a Book

Dear friends, readers and wildlifers,

Here’s something that has made my new year very special (and hopefully yours as well!). I have published a pocket guidebook to help identify common frogs around the stunning town of Manipal. ‘Frogs of Manipal’ was launched as a campaign in the year 2016 to raise awareness and bring amphibians into the limelight. It was supported by the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) and the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles (SSAR). But it is the enthusiastic and nature loving locals and students of Manipal who have taken it to a whole new level. 

Copyrights Madhushri Mudke
Cover page
Copyrights Madhushri Mudke
Inside

This guidebook has photographs, common and scientific names and habitats for the frogs we find in and around Manipal. It is my sincere hope that the guide shall serve as invaluable in helping everyone identify frogs (cryptic species) in and around their backyards.

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Who it’s for?

  • Locals living in the university town of Manipal
  • Students and citizen scientists living in Manipal
  • Naturalists, wildlife enthusiasts, nature lovers, animal lovers, wildlife/nature photographers, biologists, students, scientists and citizen scientists all over the globe

On a side note: This booklet is relevant to everyone who’s interested (or looking to start getting interested) in frogs! The frogs we find in Manipal are also present at several other places in the Western Ghats.

What’s in it for you to learn?

This guidebook shall help you understand that a tiny university town on the coasts of India is home to a rich population of amphibian species. Documenting these cryptic species that are generally linked to monsoons is a tough job for scientists. People like you, i.e all environment/nature-loving citizens and locals have made documentation and action-oriented conservation possible. With this booklet in hand, we are now a step closer to understanding the environment that we all share. So grab your copy soon!

Is it helpful?

To understand whether this guide has done what’s it meant to, is a difficult question for me to answer. So I have two requests for you (puppy face):

  1. Leave me a comment and let me know
  2. Help me spread the word so that your friends, relatives and others can help improve the second edition of this guide

I cannot wait to hear back from you. Write to me personally using this form on my About Me page or leave a comment here.

Wishing you a very happy 2018.

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