A short visit to Coorg’s rainforest streams

Western Ghats snail Intrella ampulla

In October 2013 I had the great experience to speak about BioFresh and FREDIE at the “International Conference on Ecosystem Conservation and Sustainable Development” in Thiruvananthapuram, India. After the conference and many discussions with regional colleagues I took the chance to follow the invitation of FFSG South Asia co-chair Rajeev Raghavan to visit some streams in the Western Ghats.

Western Ghats constitute a mountain range along the western side of India. It is one of the eight "hottest hotspots" of biological diversity in the world; reason enough to have a close look into its streams. Together with Anvar Ali, Krishna Kumar and Siby Philip from the Conservation Research Group (CRG), St. Alberts College Ernakulam, Nikhil Sood from “India Gills”, Bangalore and herpetologist Keerthi Krutha from Wildlife Information Liaison Development (WILD) Society we went of the hills of Coorg in Karnataka.


Barilius canarensis and Sahyadria denisonii

Mesonoemacheilus guentheri, a nice and a not so nice Schistura

Western Ghats has a highly endemic, typical Indo-Malayan fish fauna dominated by cyprinids and loaches. Most streams were situated in hilly landscapes dominated by coffee plantations and moderately degraded rainforests. Fish abundance was surprisingly low but species diversity was reasonably high. Due to the help of the large team, we catch some real beauties as Barilius canarensis, Sahyadria denisonii, Mesonoemacheilus guentheri and a fantastic Schistura. But also many small and large barbs as Puntius, Dawkinsia, Pethia, Neolissochilus and Tor were found as were several curious Garra. Altogether, about 50 fish species could be recorded within few days, several of them undescribed.

Garra stenorhynchus and Xenentodon cancilia

Torrent frog, an unidentified dragon larva, Arthrosphaera pill millipede, map butterfly and unidentified caterpillar

Also some non-fish Western Ghats endemic species were found as the colorful snail Indrella ampulla, the torrent frog Micrixalus saxicola, the map butterfly Cyrestis thyodamas and the Indian endemic damsel Rhinocypha bisignata. Unidentified remain a number of tadpoles and dragonfly larvae, which added to the extraordinary diversity of the streams.
Trivandrum and Coorg were my first visit India and I come back with very positive impressions. Super-nice colleagues, wonderful landscapes, very good food and the fantastic biodiversity made every day something to remember. Sadly, there was not enough time to experience some culture in the area – maybe next time.