Distribution and Conservation of the Himalayan Newt (Tylototriton verrucosus, Urodela, Salamandridae) in the Darjeeling District, West Bengal (India)

D. Seglie, D. Roy, C. Giacoma, M. Mushahiddunnabi

Abstract


The Himalayan newt, Tylototriton verrucosus, is reported from the mountainous region of Nepal, India, Bhutan, Burma, Vietnam, Thailand, and Southwest China. This species is the only representative of the order Caudata in the Indian subcontinent. We investigated the distribution of this taxon in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal and we evaluated the conservation status of the species from observations collected in 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2002. All the suitable sites present in the area of study showed the presence of Tylototriton verrucosus, with an occurrence rate of 100%. An estimate of population abundance, carried out on three unaltered ponds, suggests a density of newts between 18 and 101 individuals per 100 m2 during the breeding season. Despite the relative high abundance of newts in the area, the breeding sites are disappearing at a dangerously rapid rate: 5 of the 23 sites found from the 1998 – 2000 were destroyed before the June of 2002; out of the remaining ponds, at-least 5 ponds are strongly threatened of being covered or drained in near future. The most common cause of destruction is the draining by local people for utilizing the land for cultivation. Recommendations for the future conservation plans include collecting data on population reduction and extent of occurrence for the Indian range of the Himalayan newt outside the Darjeeling District, and their evaluation on the basis of the new IUCN criteria for getting a more reliable prioritisation of this taxon.

Keywords


Caudata; Salamandridae; Tylototriton verrucosus; conservation; distribution; population abundance; Darjeeling

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.30906/1026-2296-2019-10-%25s-157-162

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