The frogman of India will take you on virtual tour of Maharashtra's amphibian diversity

Aug 22, 2017, 08:10 IST | Krutika Behrawala

Hylarana caesari or the Maharashtra Golden-backed Frog named after Dr Caesar Sengupta (below) in 2014. Pic Courtsy/SD Biju
Hylarana caesari or the Maharashtra Golden-backed Frog named after Dr Caesar Sengupta (below) in 2014. Pic Courtsy/SD Biju

Last year, when amphibian biologist SD Biju and his team of students were looking for frogs in the forests of Meghalaya, they heard what sounded like "a musical orchestra playing on the treetops". This led them to rediscover Frankixalus jerdonii, a unique tree frog residing in bark holes, believed to have been extinct more than a century ago. In the past 15 years, the 53-year-old Delhi-based researcher, also dubbed as the frogman of India, and his team have discovered 89 of India's 388 frog species. These include a meowing night frog, dancing frog, pig-nosed Indian purple frog found in the Western Ghats and the smallest Indian frog, which can sit on a five-rupee coin.

This weekend, Biju will dig into his research and tell you all about the amphibian diversity of India at two talk sessions, presented by DCP Expeditions. On Saturday, he will conduct a talk on Frogs: Unique Past and Uncertain Future, where he will trace the history of their existence since the dinosaur age, and shed light on the survival challenges that frogs, toads and caecilians (limbless amphibians) face. "Numbers have fallen drastically due to deforestation. The idea is to create awareness that amphibians play an integral part in the eco-system.

SD Biju at an expedition
SD Biju at an expedition

Unfortunately, conservation efforts are largely restricted to tigers and elephants. But it's the amphibians that maintain the natural habitats that allow the bigger animals to survive," says Dr Caesar Sengupta of DCP Expeditions, who has been associated with Biju's project, Lost! Amphibians of India. Launched in 2011, the ongoing project aims to rediscover amphibian species that were believed to be extinct. On Sunday, Biju will focus on the frogs of Maharashtra. This talk is for those who are unable to sign up for a Matheran expedition that he is undertaking the same weekend. He will share information on known species and offer identification tips.

ON: August 26, 7 pm to 11 pm
AT: Hotel Satkar Residency, near Cadbury, Thane.
COST: Rs 1,200;
ON: August 27, 9 am to 12 pm
AT: Enkay Castle, Real Tech Park, Sector 30A, Vashi.
COST: Rs 500

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