Biodiversity, Ecology and Socio-Economic Aspects of Gundia River Basin in the context of proposed Mega Hydro Electric Power Project
Section 2: Gundia River basin – Eco sensitive region and the Hottest Hotspot of Biodiversity

Gundia river basin is situated along the narrow belt of unique evergreen and semi-evergreen climax and potentially related forests (Figure 1.1), which is of two categories Dipterocarpus indicusKingiodendron pinnatum- Humboldia brunonis type of low elevation (0-850 m elevation) and Mesua ferrea – Palacuim ellipticum type of medium elevation (650-1400 m). This river basin area constitutes one of the prime centers of biodiversity in the Western Ghats.  The river basin harbours nearly 36% of plant species, 87% of amphibians, and 41% of fishes, which are endemic to Western Ghats. Considering the ecological significance and rich biodiversity, this region can be declared as an Eco-sensitive region as per sub-section (1) with clause (v) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986) and clause (d) of sub-rule (3) of rule 5 of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986 in concurrence with the provisions of the Indian Forests Act, 1927 (16 of 1927) and Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 (69 of 1980) the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (53 of 1972) and also Biological diversity act 2002.

This study re-affirms ‘hottest hotspot’ status of the Western Ghats, a repository of biological wealth of rare kind, both in its aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and indicates strongly the need for adoption of holistic eco-system management for conservation of particularly the rare and endemic fauna of the Western Ghats. The premium should be on conservation of the remaining evergreen and semi-evergreen forests, which are vital for the water security (perenniality of streams) and food security (sustenance of biodiversity). Through appropriate management there still exists a chance to restore the lost natural evergreen to semi-evergreen forests.

The Biodiversity or the Biological diversity refers to the different genera and species of organisms present in an area. The degree of species diversity varies from one ecosystem to the other. India is a very rich country in terms of the rich flora and fauna present in the natural ecosystems. The presence of different kinds of forests, variability in climatic conditions, rainfall, topography are main reasons for presence of such vast biodiversity in this country. However, due to various reasons such as climate change, increasing urbanization, industrialization, encroachment, etc. the Biodiversity is facing a major threat in many parts of the world. So, to raise public awareness in this regard and enhance the participation of people in saving the biodiversity, the United Nations General Assembly has declared the year 2010 as ‘International Year of Biodiversity’. This declaration is aimed at carrying out various activities to increase awareness and to involve people, organizations and Governments from all backgrounds for conservation of biodiversity.

The Western Ghats, is a chain of mountains, stretching north south along the western peninsular India for about 1,600 km, harbours rich flora and fauna is one among 34 global biodiversity hotspots (Myers, et al., 2000, Sreekantha et al., 2007). Various forest types such as tropical evergreen, semi-evergreen, moist and dry deciduous and high altitude sholas mingle with natural and manmade grasslands, savannas and scrub, in addition to, agriculture, plantation crops, tree monocultures, river valley projects, mining areas and many other land-uses. Over 4,000 species of flowering plants (38% endemics), 330 butterflies (11% endemics), 289 fishes (41% endemics), 135 amphibians (75% endemics), 156 reptiles (62% endemics), 508 birds (4% endemics) and 120 mammals (12% endemics) are among the known biodiversity of the Western Ghats (Daniels, 2003., Dahanukar et al., 2004., Gururaja, 2004., Sreekantha et al., 2007).  Table 2.1 lists the number of organisms found in Western Ghats with their endemism status.

 Table 2.1. Organisms of Western Ghats with their endemism percentage.

Group Total Endemic Species % Endemism
Angiosperm 4000 1500 38
Butterflies 330 37 11
Fishes 289 118 41
Amphibians 135 101 75
Reptiles 156 97 62
Birds 508 19 4
Mammals 120 14 12

This rich biodiversity coupled with higher endemism could be attributed to the humid tropical climate, topographical and geological characteristics, and geographical isolation (Arabian Sea to the west and the semiarid Deccan Plateau to the east).  The Western Ghats forms an important watershed for the entire peninsular India, being the source of 37 west flowing rivers and three major east flowing rivers and their numerous tributaries. The stretch of Central Western Ghats of Karnataka, from 12°N to 14°N, from Coorg district to the south of Uttara Kannada district, and covering the Western portions of Hassan, Chikmagalore and Shimoga districts, is exceptionally rich in flora and fauna. Whereas the elevation from 400 m to 800 m, is covered with evergreen to semi-evergreen climax forests and their various stages of degradation, especially around human habitations, the higher altitudes, rising up to 1700 m, are covered with evergreen forests especially along stream courses and rich grasslands in between. This portion of Karnataka Western Ghats is extremely important agriculturally and horticulturally. Whereas the rice fields in valleys are irrigated with numerous perennial streams from forested hill-slopes the undulating landscape is used to great extent for growing precious cash crops, especially coffee and cardamom. Black pepper, ginger, arecanut, coconut, rubber are notable crops here, in addition to various fruit trees and vegetables. Some of the higher altitudes are under cultivation of tea. From the point of productivity, revenue generation, employment potential and subsistence the central Western Ghats are extremely important.

The landscape everywhere is mosaic of natural and man-modified elements with high diversity of flora and fauna with high degree of Western Ghat endemism. The presence of National Parks (Nagarahole and Kudremukh) and wildlife sanctuaries such as Brahmagiri and Pushpagiri, Mookambiga. Shettihalli and Sharavathi, many waterfalls and exquisite scenic locations are great draws for tourism, which stand to gain much more importance in the near future. The Gundia basin, despite teeming with human activities, related mainly to agriculture and plantations, is very rich in plant diversity. As our study is of preliminary nature we place no claim on its exhaustiveness, but hold the strong view that the region needs more careful and intensive investigations before harping on any major developmental interventions which can upset the structure and harmony of the entire network of ecosystems. A list of trees of the region, actually found during our brief field visit is given in the Table 2.2. The landscape is rich in shrubs and climbers (Table 2.3), herbs (Table 2.4) and Pteridophytes (Table 2.5)

The Gundia region is also equally important in terms of fauna present here. Our preliminary survey also included the records of various faunal species present in this region. The region is very rich in terms of butterflies (Table 2.6), dragonflies and damselflies (Table 2.7), fishes (Table 2.8), amphibians (Table 2.9), reptiles (Table 2.10), birds (Table 2.11) and mammals (Table 2.12).

Vegetation of Gundia Region:

Vegetation: The survey yielded the presence of total 239 plant species in the region out d of which 119 are trees belonging to 88 genera and 42 families, 63 are shrubs and climbers belonging to 53 genera and 34 families and 57 are herbs belonging to 49 genera and 28 families. Herbs also included orchids such as Flinkingeria nodosa, Dendrobium aquem, Trias stoksii, etc. Endemic species such as Holigarna grahmii, H.arnottiana, Myristica dactyloides, Vateria Indica, Gordonia obtuse, Canarium strictum, Artocarpus hirsutus etc., were found in most of the localities. The region inherits luxuriant forests (Figure 2.1), which can be divided broadly into the following types:

  1. Tropical wet evergreen to semi-evergreen rain forests: These were extensively found in most of the studied areas with a minimum to various amounts of disturbances. The canopy trees in these forests were over 30 m tall and covered with innumerable climbers and epiphytes. The tallest evergreens exceeding 30 m in height include Dipterocarpus indicus, Vateria indica, Bischofiajavanica, Calophyllum tomentosum, Elaeocarpus tuberculatus, Diospyros spp., Holigarna spp., Mangifera indica, Lophopetalum wightianum, Syzygium spp., Polyalthia fragrans, Mesua ferrea etc. These emergent trees are followed by canopy species attaining 20-25 m in height. Notable species in this strata are Canarium strictum, Cinnamomum macrocarpum, Dimocarpus longan, Fahrenhetia zeylanica, Garcinia gummi-gutta, G. Morella, Litzea spp., Myristica dactyloides, M. malabarica, etc. Still beneath are trees of lesser stature such as Mallotus tetracoccus, Nothopegia racemosa, Vepris bilocularis. The evergreen forests are rich in palms such as Arenga wigthii, Caryota urens and Pinanga dicksonii in addition to the straggler palms of Calamus spp. (canes).
  2. The riparian vegetation: Along the streams and rivulets, species such as Carallia brachiata, Madhuca neriifolia, Euonymus indica, Vateria indica, Calophyllum apetalum, Eleocarpus tuberculatus, etc. were found. In many places stream banks were dominated by reeds such as Cyperus pangorie, Ochlandra scriptoria, etc. Herbs such as Cryptocoryne retrospiralis, Dichanthium huegeli, Rotula aquatica, covered the sandy banks. Homonea riparia, Osmunda regalis, occurs scattered along the stream flow. Cyathea gigantea, occurs in shaded parts of the streams. Balanophora fungosa occurs as a root parasite on plants such as Euonymus indica, Syzygium sp, etc.
  3. Tropical wet deciduous forests: Occurred along more disturbed areas with species such as Careya arborea, Mallotus tetracoccus, Mallotus philippensis, Celtis sp., Aporosa lindleyana, Lagerstroemia lanceolate, Terminalia paniculata, etc.
  4. Scrub jungles: Most of the places surrounding the hilltops were scrub jungles with species such as Phyllanthus emblica, Careya arborea, Terminalia bellirica, etc.
  5. Grasslands and savannas: Most of the hilltops were grasslands with scattered shrubs of Wendlandia thyrusoide, Venguria spinosa, Canthium parviflorus, etc. Small stunted trees have orchids such as Trias stocksii, species of Oberonia, Dendrobium, etc.
  6. Scattered trees along plantations and abandoned fields: Large areas of land are being under this type with many native lopped evergreen species standing scattered along the coffee plantations as shades for coffee plants.

The heavy rainfall exceeding 5000 mm in most places favor the growth of tropical evergreen forests. As the region is suitable for cash crops and rice much lands have been brought under them after clearing forests partially or entirely, the latter for especially rice and ginger. Partial clearances are for cardamom and coffee which are the most important crops in the basin. Enmeshed in the hilly landscape are evergreen to semi-evergreen forests, scrub and secondary woodlands. The latter two types obviously are regrowth on past shifting cultivation sites as is evident from place names such as Kanchan-kumri, Yeda-kumri, Betta-kumri etc, the appellation ‘kumri’ denoting slash and burn cultivation that was prevalent in Karnataka Western Ghats in the past. To this day many of these kumri areas are having savanna, woodland or scrub vegetation if they are closer to human habitation or under successional forests, in late secondary stages dominated by evergreens. The presence of fire tolerant deciduous species such as Careya arborea, Catunaragam spinosa, Dillenia pentagyna, Grewia tilifolia, Terminalia paniculata, Bridelia stipularis and Xylia xylocarpa as well as the dominance of certain evergreens like Glochidion spp., Celtis cinnamomea, Olea dioica etc. indicate some alterations of the forests in the past.

On the contrary, interspersed and dominating the landscape are tall evergreen trees in large patches as in Bisle Ghat, Kaginahare forest, Mallalli waterfalls gorge, Yethinahole forest etc. These have high degree of Western Ghats endemism both among the trees as well as among the ground vegetation. The tallest evergreens exceeding 30 m in height include Dipterocarpus indicus, Vateria indica, Bischofiajavanica, Calophyllum tomentosum, Elaeocarpus tuberculatus, Diospyros spp., Holigarna spp., Mangifera indica, Lophopetalum wightianum, Syzygium spp., Polyalthia fragrans, Mesua ferrea etc. These emergent trees are followed by canopy species attaining 20-25 m in height. Notable species in this strata are Canarium strictum, Cinnamomum macrocarpum, Dimocarpus longan, Fahrenhetia zeylanica, Garcinia gummi-gutta, G. Morella, Litzea spp., Myristica dactyloides, M. malabarica, etc. Still beneath are trees of lesser stature such as Mallotus tetracoccus, Nothopegia racemosa, Vepris bilocularis. The evergreen forests are rich in palms such as Arenga wigthii, Caryota urens and Pinanga dicksonii in addition to the straggler palms of Calamus spp. (canes). The ground is carpeted with various herbs and shrubs, of which Strobilanthus heyneanus is prominent at the time of our visit. The gregarious species is in flowers throughout the central Western Ghats. The massive flowering, once in many years, is said to boost honey production. Pinanga dicksonii, Cyathea spp. (tree fern), Dipterocarpus indicus, Vateria indica and associate species are indicative of climax status of many forest patches. The reed Ochlandra scriptora is common along the streams and river banks. It, along with Caryota urens form important fodder for elephants.

The grasslands are widespread in the region and supports rich fauna of grazing animals. They constitute major grazing resources for the local livestock. Many of the grasslands catch fire during summer months, often set on by local people, for promoting flush of tender shoots during the growing season. In the absence of fire the grasslands might revert to forests. Notable of the grasses are Centotheca spp., Dichanthium spp., Eragrostis spp., Heteropogon contortus, Ischemum spp., Paspalum scrobiculatum etc.In addition to grasses are found various herbs such as several species of sedges like Canscora decurrens, Curculigo orchioides, Impatiens spp. (balsams), Leucas spp., Lindernia spp., Polygonum spp.  and Sonerilla rheedeii. Several ground orchids like Habenaria spp., Platanthera susanne, Trias sp. etc also occur in the grasslands.

Figure 2.1: Biological richness of the Gundya basin

Bettakumri forest –area for submergence

Hongadahalla: proposed to be dammed

Kagneri meadow and wetland

Sunkeri village –proposed submergence area under Bettakumri dam

Impatiens stocksii: endemic herb

Flickingeria nodosa: endemic orchid

Pinanga dicksonii: Endemic palm of primary forest – Kaginara forest

A tree clad coffee cum cardamom estate

The region is also rich in cardamom and coffee plantations (Figure 2.1). The cardamom plantations may be considered most eco-friendly among the lot of planting activities by humans. These are virtually evergreen forests with most of the trees preserved to favour the shade and humidity loving cardamom herbs beneath. The Gundia basin is also rich in cardamom cultivation. This cash crop fetches high returns while also preserving the forests and watershed. Both small and big farmers of Gundia basin are engaged in cardamom cultivation, the dried fruit per kilogram fetches almost around Rs.1500/- The role of cardamom plantations in preserving native vegetation has seldom been ever highlighted. The coffee estates, both small and big, like rest of central Western Ghats, constitute a major activity in the focal region. In preservation of native forest vegetation coffee is next in importance only to cardamom. In many large private holdings portions of the property are under wild vegetation. These private forests, in combination with the tree rich cardamom and coffee estates and state reserved forests make the region rich in wildlife composed of amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

Gundia region is also a rich storehouse of large number of pteridophytes. A total of 54 different pteridophytic species belonging to 20 families are present in this region (Table 2.5). Three species namely Selaginella radicata Hook and Grev., Bolbitis subcrenata (Benth & Hook.)var. prolifera (Rev.) and Bolbitis semicordata (Bak.) Ching are endemic to South India. Pteridophytes form a conspicuous part of earth’s vegetation. They are an important group of plants from phylogenetic and evolutionary point of view as they show evolution of vascular plants and point out the processes that led to development of seed habit in plants. They provide a link between lower non-vascular and higher vascular group of plants. Many of them act as biological indicators also. Their habitat consists of microclimatic conditions with special preference for moist and shady places. A minor disturbance in their microclimate conditions can lead to loss of large number of species. A list of trees of the region, actually found during our brief field visit is given in the Table 2.2. The landscape is rich in shrubs and climbers (Table 2.3), herbs (Table 2.4) and Pteridophytes (Table 2.5).

Table 2.2:  Trees of Gundia region

Sl Family Genera Species Distribution
1 Lauraceae Actinodaphne hookeri Western Ghats
2 Meliaceae Aglaia anamalayana Western Ghats
3 Meliaceae Aglaia roxbhurgii  
4 Simaroubaceae Ailanthus excelsa  
5 Fabaceae Albizzia sp  
6 Apocynaceae Alstonia scholaris  
7 Rubiaceae Anthocephallus cadamba  
8 Euphorbiaceae Antidesma menasu Western Ghats
9 Euphorbiaceae Aporosa lindleyana  
10 Moraceae Artocarpus heterophyllus Western Ghats
11 Moraceae Artocarpus hirsuta Western Ghats
12 Moraceae Artocarpus gomezianus Western Ghats, Sri Lanka
13 Fabaceae Bauhinia sp  
14 Lauraceae Beilsmedia fagifolia  
15 Euphorbiaceae Bischofia javanica  
16 Bombacaceae Bombax ceiba  
17 Euphorbiaceae Bridelia crenulata Peninsular India
18 Fabaceae Butea monosperma  
19 Verbenaceae Callicarpa tomentosa South India
20 Clusiaceae Calophyllum apetalum Western Ghats
21 Clusiaceae Calophyllum polyanthum  
22 Burseraceae Canarium strictum  
23 Rubiaceae Canthium dicoccum  
24 Rhizophoraceae Carallia brachiata  
25 Lecythidaceae Careya arborea  
26 Arecaceae Caryota urens  
27 Ulmaceae Celtis cinnamomea  
28 Sapotaceae Chrysophyllum roxburghii Western Ghats
29 Lauraceae Cinnamomum macrocarpum Western Ghats
30 Lauraceae Cinnamomum zeylanicum Western Ghats, Sri Lanka
31 Arecaceae Corypha umbreculifera Western Ghats, Sri Lanka
32 Dillleniaceae Dillenia pentagyna  
33 Sapindaceae Dimocarpus longan  
34 Ebenaceae Diospyros candolleana Western Ghats
35 Ebenaceae Diospyros crumenata Western Ghats, Sri Lanka
36 Ebenaceae Diospyros montana  
37 Ebenaceae Diospyros assymilis Western Ghats
38 Ebenaceae Diospyros nigrescens Western Ghats
39 Dipterocarpaceae Dipterocarpus indicus Western Ghats
40 Meliaceae Dysoxylum binectariferum Western Ghats, Sri Lanka
41 Elaeocarpaceae Elaeocarpus serratus India, Sri Lanka
42 Elaeocarpaceae Elaeocarpus tuberculatus  
43 Apocynaceae Ervatamia heyneana Western Ghats
44 Celastraceae Euonymus indicus Western Ghats
45 Euphorbiaceae Fahrenheitia zeylanica Western Ghats, Sri Lanka
46 Moraceae Ficus arnottiana India, Sri Lanka
47 Moraceae Ficus tsjahela South India, Sri Lanka
48 Moraceae Ficus hispida  
49 Moraceae Ficus sp.  
50 Flacourtiaceae Flacourtia montana Western Ghats
51 Clusiaceae Garcinia gummi-gutta Western Ghats
52 Clusiaceae Garcinia morella  
53 Clusiaceae Garcinia talbotii Western Ghats
54 Clusiaceae Garcinia xanthochymus  
55 Euphorbiaceae Glochidion johnstonei Western Ghats
56 Euphorbiaceae Glochidion sp    
57 Verbenaceae Gmelina arborea  
58 Theaceae Gordonia obtusa Western Ghats
59 Tiliaceae Grewia tiliaefolia  
60 Anacardiaceae Holigarna arnotiana Western Ghats
61 Anacardiaceae Holigarna grahamii Western Ghats
62 Anacardiaceae Holigarna beddomii Western Ghats
63 Anacardiaceae Holigarna ferruginia Western Ghats
64 Dipterocarpaceae Hopea ponga Western Ghats
65 Flacourtiaceae Hydnocarpus laurifolia Western Ghats
66 Rubiaceae Ixora arborea Western Ghats
67 Myristicaceae Knema attenuata Western Ghats
68 Lythraceae Lagerstroemia microcarpa Western Ghats
69 Oleaceae Ligustrum neilgherrensis  
70 Oleaceae Linoceira malabarica Western Ghats
71 Lauraceae Litsea floribunda Western Ghats
72 Lauraceae Litsea sp  
73 Celastraceae Lophopetalum wightianum  
74 Euphorbiaceae Macaranga peltata Western Ghats, Sri Lanka
75 Sapotaceae Madhuca neriifolia Western Ghats, Sri Lanka
76 Euphorbiaceae Mallotus philippensis  
77 Euphorbiaceae Mallotus tetracoccus  
78 Anacardiaceae Mangifera indica  
79 Anacardiaceae Mastixia arborea Western Ghats
80 Annonaceae Meiogyne ramarowii South India
81 Melastomaceae Memycelon malabarica Western Ghats
82 Melastomaceae Memycelon umbellatum  
83 Clusiaceae Mesua ferrea  
84 Sapotaceae Mimusops elengi  
85 Myristicaceae Myristica dactyloides South India, Sri Lanka
86 Rubiaceae Neonauclea purpurea Western Ghats
87 Anacardiaceae Nothopegia colebrookeana Western Ghats
88 Icacinaceae Nothopodytes foetida  
89 Oleaceae Olea dioica Western Ghats, Deccan plateau
90 Sapotaceae Palaquium ellipticum Western Ghats
91 Lauraceae Persea macrantha Peninsular India, Sri Lanka
92 Euphorbiaceae Phyllanthus emblica  
93 Fabaceae Pithecellobium monadelphum India
94 Pittosporaceae Pittosporum dasycaulon Western Ghats
95 Annonaceae Polyaltha fragrans Western Ghats
96 Fabaceae Pongamia pinnata  
97 Sterculiaceae Pterospermum diversifolium  
98 Sterculiaceae Pterospermum reticulatum  
99 Rubiaceae Randia dumetorum  
100 Bombacaceae Salmalia malabarica  
101 Sterculiaceae Sterculia guttata Western Ghats, Sri Lanka
102 Bignoniaceae Steriospermum personatum  
103 Symplocaceae Symplocos racemosa Western Ghats
104 Symplocaceae Symplocos cochinchinensis  
105 Myrtaceae Syzygium laetum Western Ghats
106 Myrtaceae Syzygium gardneri Western Ghats, Sri Lanka
107 Myrtaceae Syzygium cumini  
108 Myrtaceae Syzygium sp  
109 Verbenaceae Tectona grandis  
110 Combretaceae Terminalia paniculata India
111 Combretaceae Terminalia bellirica  
112 Ulmaceae Trema orientalis  
113 Euphorbiaceae Trewia nudiflora  
114 Dipterocarpaceae Vateria indica Western Ghats
115 Rutaceae Vepris bilocularis Western Ghats
116 Verbenaceae Vitex altissima South India
117 Rubiaceae Wendlandia thyrsoidea South India, Sri Lanka
118 Fabaceae Xylia xylocarpa  
119 Rutaceae Zanthoxylum rhetsa  

Table 2.3: Shrubs and climbers of Gundia region

Sl Family Genera Species Distribution
1 Sapindaceae Allophylus cobbe  
2 Menispermaceae Anamirta cocculus  
3 Ancistrocladaceae Ancistrocladus heyneanus Western Ghats
4 Aristolochiaceae Apama siliqosa Western Ghats, Sri Lanka
5 Myrsinaceae Ardisia solanacea India
6 Arecaceae Arenga wightii Western Ghats
7 Liliaceae Asparagus racemosa  
8 Rutaceae Atalantia racemosa  
9 Poaceae Bambusa arundinacea Oriental-India
10 Acanthaceae Barleria courtillica  
11 Fabaceae Bauhinia phoenicea Western Ghats
12 Euphorbiaceae Blachia sp  
13 Euphorbiaceae Breynia retusa India, Sri Lanka
14 Arecaceae Calamus thwaitesii Western Ghats
15 Arecaceae Calamus sp  
16 Verbenaceae Callicarpa tomentosa South India
17 Rubiaceae Canthium parviflorum  
18 Arecaceae Caryota urens  
19 Rubiaceae Chasalia ophioxyloides South India, Sri Lanka
20 Lamiaceae Colebrookea oppositifolia  
22 Fabaceae Dalbergia horrida  
23 Fabaceae Dalbergia sp  
24 Fabaceae Dalbergia sympethetica Western Ghats
25 Elaeagnaceae Elaeagnus latifolia  
26 Myrsinaceae Embelia tjeriam-cottam  
27 Rhamnaceae Gaunia microcarpa  
28 Gnetaceae Gnetum ula South India
29 Malvaceae Hibiscus furcatus  
30 Apocynaceae Holarrhena antidysenterica  
31 Euphorbiaceae Homonea riparia  
32 Rubiaceae Ixora brachiata  
33 Rubiaceae Ixora sp  
34 Acanthaceae Justicia montana  
35 Leeaceae Leea indica  
36 Oleaceae Ligustrum gamblei Western Ghats
37 Campanulaceae Lobelia nicotianifolia Western Ghats, Sri Lanka
38 Melastomaceae Melastoma malabathricum India
39 Melastomataceae Memycelon terminale Western Ghats
40 Fabaceae Mucuna sp  
41 Rubiaceae Mussaenda laxa Western Ghats
42 Icacinaceae Nothopodytes nimmoniana  
43 Poaceae Ochlandra scriptoria Western Ghats
44 Pandanaceae Pandanus sp  
45. Arecaceae Pinanga dicksonii Western Ghats
46 Arecaceae Phoenix humilis Western Ghats
47 Araceae Pothos scandens  
48 Urticaceae Pouzolzia wightii  
49 Rubiaceae Psychotria dalzellii Western Ghats
50 Rubiaceae Psychotria flavida Western Ghats
51 Rubiaceae Psychotria truncata Western Ghats
52 Araceae Rhaphidophora laciniata Western Ghats, Sri Lanka
53 Rubiaceae Rubia cordifolia  
54 Rosaceae Rubus fockei Western Ghats
55 Marantaceae Schumannianthus virgatus South India, Sri Lanka
56 Smilacaceae Smilax zeylanica  
57 Solanaceae Solanum sp  
58 Acanthaceae Strobilanthus heyneanus Western Ghats
59 Acanthaceae Strobilanthus barbatus Western Ghats
60 Rubiaceae Venguria spinosa  
61 Vitaceae Vitaceae sp  
62 Rubiaceae Wendlandia thyrusoide  
63 Rhamnaceae Ziziphus rugosa India, Sri Lanka

Table 2.4: Herbs of Gundia region

Sl Family Genera Species Distribution
1 Gesneriaceae Aeschynanthus  perrottetii Western Ghats
2 Zingiberaceae Alpinia malaccensis  
3 Poaceae Arundinella sp  
4 Balanophoraceae Balanophora fungosa ssp indica Western Ghats
5 Gentianaceae Canscora deccurens  
6 Poaceae Centotheca lappacea  
7 Asteraceae Crassocephalum crepidiodes South and North East India
8 Araceae Cryptocoryne retrospiralis  
9 Liliaceae Curculigo  orchioides Western Ghats
10 Zingiberaceae Curcuma neilgherrensis  
11 Cyperaceae Cyperus difformis  
12 Cyperaceae Cyperus iria  
13 Cyperaceae Cyperus pangorei  
14 Cyperaceae Cyperus tenuispica Western Ghats
15 Orchidaceae Dendrobium aqueum  
16 Orchidaceae Dendrobium sp India
17 Poaceae Dichanthium huegelii  
18 Scrophulariaceae Dopatrium junceum  
19 Agavaceae Dracaena ternifolia  
20 Poaceae Eragrostis sp  
21 Cyperaceae Fimbristylis aestivalis  
22 Cyperaceae Fimbristylis littoralis  
23 Fabaceae Flemingia strobilifera India
24 Orchidaceae Flinkingeria nodosa  
25 Poaceae Heteropogon contortus  
26 Piperaceae Heckeria piperita Western Ghats
27 Asclepiadaceae Hoya retusa  
28 Hydrophyllaceae Hydrolea zeylanica Western Ghats
29 Balsaminaceae Impatiens stocksii  
30 Poaceae Ischemum sp  
31 Crassulaceae Kalanchoe sp  
32 Cyperaceae Kyllinga sp  
33 Araceae Lagenandra sp  
34 Lamiaceae Leucas sp  
35 Scrophulariaceae Lindernia antipoda  
36 Scrophulariaceae Lindernia hyssopoides  
37 Scrophulariaceae Lindernia rotundifolia  
38 Scrophulariaceae Lindernia sp  
39 Campanulaceae Lobelia nicotianifolia  
40 Onagraceae Ludwigia sp  
41 Nymphaceae Nymphaea nauchali  
42 Menyanthaceae Nymphoides  indica  
43 Orchidaceae Oberonia sp  
44 Poaceae Paspalum scrobiculatum  
45 Orchidaceae Pholidota pallida  
46 Polygonaceae Polygonum sp  
47 Cyperaceae Pycreus polystachyos  
48 Boraginaceae Rotula aquatica  
49 Acanthaceae Rungia pectinata  
50 Lamiaceae Scutellaria discolor Western Ghats
51 Malvaceae Sida acuta  
52 Melastomataceae Sonerila rheedii  
53 Asteraceae Spilanthus sp S W India
54 Asteraceae Spilathus paniculata  
55 Orchidaceae Trias stocksii S W India, Sri Lanka
56 Lentibulariaceae Utricularia striatula  
57 Orchidaceae Zeuxine longilabris  

Table 2.5:  Pteridophytes of Gundia region

Sl Botanical name Family Status
1 Adiantum lunulatum Burm.F. Adiantaceae  
2 Adiantum capillus-veneris L. Adiantaceae  
3 Angiopteris evecta (Forst.) Hoff. Angiopteridaceae  
4 Asplenium indicum Sledge Aspleniaceae  
5 Asplenium cheilosorum Krge Aspleniaceae  
6 Asplenium crinicaule Hance Aspleniaceae  
7 Athyrium hohenackeranum Kuntz. Athyriaceae  
8 Athyrium falcatum Bedd. Athyriaceae  
9 Athyrium solenopteris Kuntz. Athyriaceae  
10 Blechnum orientale L. Blechnaceae  
11 Cyathea gigantean Holttum Cyatheaceae  
12 Araiostegia pulchra (D.Don) Copel Davalliaceae  
13 Pteridium aquilinium (L.) Kunth Dennstaedtiaceae  
14 Microlepia speluncae (L.) Moore Dennstaedtiaceae  
15 Arachniodes cordifolia Moore Dryopteridaceae  
16 Dryopteris chrysocema Dryopteridaceae  
17 Dryopteris cochleata D.Don Dryopteridaceae  
18 Dryopteris marginata Dryopteridaceae  
19 Bolbitis subcrenata (Benth & Hook.)var. prolifera (Rev.) Elaphoglossaceae Endemic to South India
20 Bolbitis semicordata (Bak.) Ching Elaphoglossaceae Endemic to South India
21 Gleichenia linearis Burm.F. Gleicheniaceae  
22 Gramites medialis (Bak) Ching Grammitidaceae  
23 Egenolphia asplenifolia (Bory) Fee Lomariopsidaceae  
24 Lycopodium hamiltonii Spreng. Lycopodiaceae  
25 Lycopodium cermum L. Lycopodiaceae  
26 Lycopodium squarrosum Forst. Lycopodiaceae  
27 Lycopodium subulifolium Wall. Ex. Hook. And Grev. Lycopodiaceae  
28 Nephrolepis multiflora (Roxb.) Jarret. Oleandraceae  
29 Nephrolepis undulata Oleandraceae  
30 Oleandra musifolia Kz. Oleandraceae  
31 Oleandra neriiformis Cav. Oleandraceae  
32 Ophioglossum nudicaule L.F. Ophioglossaceae  
33 Ophiglossum gramineum L. Ophioglossaceae Cr.En.
34 Aleuritopteris anceps Blanf. Pteridaceae  
35 Cheilanthes farinose (Forsk) Kault Pteridaceae  
36 Cheilanthes opposita syn. Cheilanthes mysurensis Pteridaceae  
37 Doryopteris concolor Pteridaceae  
38 Lygodium microphyllum (Cav.) R.Br. Schizaeaceae  
39 Lygodium flexosum (L.) Sw. Schizaeaceae  
40 Selaginella tenera (Hook and Grev) Selaginellaceae  
41 Selaginella ciliaris (Retz) Spring Selaginellaceae  
42 Selaginella longipila Hieron Selaginellaceae  
43 Selaginella reticulate Selaginellaceae  
44 Selaginella proniflora (Lamk) Bak Selaginellaceae  
45 Selaginella radicata Hook and Grev. Selaginellaceae Endemic to South India
46 Ampelopteris prolifera (Retz) Copel. Thelypteridaceae  
47 Amphineuron terminans (Hooker) Holftam Thelypteridaceae  
48 Christella dentata (Forsk) Brownsey and Jermy Thelypteridaceae  
49 Christella parasitica (L.) Lev. Thelypteridaceae  
50 Macrothelypteris ornate (Wall ex Bedd) Thelypteridaceae  
51 Macrothelypteris torresiana (Gaud) Thelypteridaceae  
52 Pronephrium articulatum Holttum Thelypteridaceae  
53 Pseudocyclosorus ochthodes Kuntze Thelypteridaceae  
54 Trigonospora ciliate (Benth) Thelypteridaceae  


Butterflies: Forty-four species of butterflies (Table 2.6) are found in this area belonging to five families: Family Nymphalidae is dominated by 23 species followed by Lycaenidae 8 species, Pieridae 7, Papilionidae 5 species and Hesperiidae one species. Two endangered species namely Crimson rose and Danaid eggfly are found in this region emphasising the ecological significance of the region. Many species are found mud-puddling close to the streams and some species are basking in the open canopy areas.

Table 2.6: Butterflies found in Gundia region

Sr. No. Scientific Name Common Name Ecological status
  Family: Papilionidae    
1 Troides minos Cramer Southern Birdwing (PI) Rare
2 Pachliopta hector L., Crimson Rose (PI&SL) Endangered
3 Graphium sarpedon L., Common Bluebottle Common
4 Graphium agamemnon L., Tailed Jay Common
5 Papilio polytes L., Common Mormon common
  Family: Pieridae    
6 Catopsilia pomona Fabricius Common Emigrant Common
7 Eurema hecabe L., Common Grass Yellow Common
8 Delias eucharis Drury Common Jezebel (PI & SL) Common
9 Leptosia nina Fabricius Psyche common
10 Cepora nerissa Fabricius Common Gull common
11 Appias albina Boisduval Common Albatross Rare
12 Hebomoea glaucippe L., Great Orange Tip Rare
  Family: Nymphalidae    
13 Melanitis leda L., Common Evening Brown Common
14 Mycalesis perseus Fabricius Common Bushbrown Rare
15 Mycalesis patnia Moore Glad-eye Bushbrown (PI&SL) Common
16 Ypthima asterope Klug Common Three-ring Common
17 Cethosia nietneri C&R Felder Tamil Lacewing (PI&SL) Common
18 Cupha erymanthis Drury Rustic Rare
19 Polyura athamas Drury Common Nawab Common
20 Phalanta phalantha Drury Common Leopard Common
21 Cirrochroa thais Fabricius Tamil Yeoman (PI&SL) Common
22 Neptis hylas Moore Common Sailer Common
23 Pantoporia hordonia Stoll Common Lascar Common
24 Athyma perius L., Common Sergeant Common
25 Moduza procris Cramer Commander Common
26 Ariadne merione Cramer Common Castor Common
27 Junonia lemonias L., Lemon Pansy Common
28 Junonia atlites L., Grey Pansy Common
29 Junonia iphita Cramer Chocolate Pansy Common
30 Hypolimnas bolina L., Great Eggfly Common
31 Hypolimnas misippus L., Danaid Eggfly (PI&SL) Endangered
32 Tirumala limniace Cramer Blue Tiger Common
33 Parantica aglea Stoll Glassy Tiger Common
34 Danaus genutia Cramer Striped Tiger Common
35 Euploea core Cramer Common Indian Crow Common
36 Castalius rosimon Fabricius Common Pierrot Common
37 Actolepis puspa Horsfield Common Hedge Blue Rare
38 Zizula hylax Fabricius Tiny Grass Blue Common
39 Chilades laius Stoll Lime Blue Common
40 Lampides boeticus L., Pea Blue Common
41 Jamides celeno Cramer Common Cerulean Common
42 Prosotas nora C & R Felder Common Lineblue Common
43 Arhopala amantes Hewitson Large Oakblue Common
  Family: Hesperiidae    
44 Hasora chromus Cramer Common Banded Awl Common

Figure 2.2:  Biodiversity of Gundia basin (Humming bird hawk moth…)

Dragons and damselflies:  Four species of Odonates are found in this area (Table 2.7). The species are Clear-winged Forest glory (Vestalis gracilis), Stream ruby (Rhinocypha bisignata), Stream glory Neurobasis chinensis) and Ground skimmer (Diplocodes trivailis). The three speices are found along the streams of Hongadahalla, Battekumri halla and Kempholé whereas, the Diplocodes trivailis is found in the forest undergrowth of Hongadahalla area.

Table 2.7: Dragons and damselflies in Gundia region

Sl.No Scientific Name Common Name
1 Rhinocypha bisignata Stream Ruby
2 Neurobasis chinensis Stream Glory
3 Vestalis gracilis Clear-winged Forest Glory
4 Diplocodes trivailis Ground Skimmer

Fish: 56 different species of fishes were recorded from Netravathi and Kumaradhara rivers out of which 23 are endemics (Table 2.8). 11 species are assigned as Vulnerble and 8 species have been assigned as Endangered by the IUCN and feture in the Red List of Threatened species. Figure 2.3 provides the glimpse of fish habitats in Gundia river basin. Horabagrus brachysoma (Gunther) and Etroplus Canadensis are endemic species and are featured as Critically Endangered species in the Red List. Three fish species have very limited distibution and have been described here:

  • Etroplus canarensis: This species was first described in 1877 - and never seen since then,  and re-discovered in 1997. This is the third Cichlid species from Asia along with other two common species Etroplus maculatus and Etroplus suratensis. Unlike these two 18 species, Etroplus canarensis is purely a freshwater dweller. The species is restricted only to a short river stretch of 2-3 km of the Nethravathi River. Presently, nothing much is known about the ecology, life cycle, and evolutionary aspects of this species.
  • Mahseers: Several species have been reported from India and from southern India, the Tor khudree and Tor mussullah. Mahseers prefer running water with deep pools and rocky substrate. They rule the Indian waters like tiger do the jungle. Three protected sites for fishes along downstream region of Kumaradhara and Nethravathi, indicates the fish richness of the region as well as the conservation priority given to these rivers.
  • Mesonemacheilus petrubanarescui: A species, belonging to Balitoridae family has been reported from Dharmasthala of Nethravathi River and so far it has not been reported from any other region.

Table 2.8: Fishes of Nethravati and Kumaradhara rivers

Sr. No. Species name Distribution IUCN Status
1.  Anguilla bengalensis (Gray) India VU
2.  Aplocheilus blocki (Arnold) India DD
3. Aplocheilus lineatus (Val.) India LR
4. Barilius bakeri (Day) Endemic VU
5. Barilius canarensis (Jerdon) Endemic DD
6. Barilius gatensis (Val.) Endemic DD
7. Brachydanio rerio (Ham.) India LR
8. Channa orientalis (Bl. & Schn.) India VU
9. Channa striatus India LR
10. Cirrhinus reba (Ham.) India VU
11. Clarias dussumieri (Val.) Endemic VU
12. Cyprinus carpio communis (Linne.) India Intro
13. Danio aequipinnatus India LR
14. Danio malabaricus (Jerdon) India LR
15. Esomus thermoicos (Val.) India LR
16 Etroplus canarensis Endemic CR
17. Etroplus maculatus (Bloch) India LR
18. Garra gotyla stenorhynchus Endemic EN
19. Garra mullya (Sykes) India LR
20. Glossogobius giuris India LR
21. Horabagrus brachysoma (Gunther) Endemic CR
22. Hyporhamphus limbatus (Val.) India DD
23. Hypselobarbus kurali Menon and Rema Devi Endemic EN
24. Labeo kontius (Jerdon) Endemic EN
25. Lepidocephalus thermalis (Val.) India LR
26. Mastacembelus armatus Lacepede India LR
27. Mesonemacheilus petrubanarescui Endemic DD
28. Mystus cavasius (Ham.) India LR
29. Mystus malabaricus (Jerdon) Endemic EN
30. Oreochromis mossambica (Peters) India Intro
31. Osteochilichthys nashii Day Endemic VU
32. Poecilia reticulata (Peters) India Intro
33. Pristolepis marginata (Jerdon) Endemic VU
34. Pseudosphromenus cupanius (Val.) India DD
35. Puntius amphibius (Val.) India LR
36. Puntius arulius arulius (Jerdon) Endemic EN
37. Puntius bimaculatus (Bleeker) India DD
38. Puntius conchonius (Ham.) India VU
39. Puntius filamentosus (Val.) India DD
40. Puntius melanampyx (Day) Endemic LR
41. Puntius melanostigma (Day) Endemic EN
42. Puntius sarana subnasutus (Val.) Endemic LR
43. Puntius setnai Chhapgar and Sane Endemic DD
44. Puntius sophore India LR
45. Puntius ticto (Ham.) India LR
46. Puntius vittatus Day India VU
47. Rasbora daniconius (Ham.) India LR
48. Salmostoma acinaces (Val.) India LR
49. Salmostoma boopis (Day) Endemic LR
50. Schistura denisonii denisonii India VU
51. Schistura kodaguensis Menon Endemic DD
52. Schistura nilgiriensis Menon Endemic EN
53. Schistura semiarmatus Day Endemic VU
54. Tetraodon (M.) tavancoricus Hora & Nair Endemic EN
55. Tor khudree (Sykes) India VU
56. Xenentodon cancila (Ham.) India LR

Figure 2.3: Gundia river basin – endemic fish habitats

Bettakumri river- proposed to be dammed

Mallalli waterfalls: the river to be blocked by weir
A perennial stream in Mallalli

Yetinahalla dam site

Amphibians: Amphibians are one of the best biological indicators of ecosystem health. Table 2.9 highlights the amphibians present in this area. As many as 23 species distributed in 8 families have been observed from the region. Out of these, 20 species are endemics. A critically endangered species Indirana gundia has been discovered from this region in 1986 (Figure 2.4). In the present study, two endangered species Nyctibatrachus aliciae and Minervarya sahyadris were recorded, which further highlights the ecological significance of the region. Availability of perennial sources of water has provided ample habitats for amphibians

Table 2.9: Amphibians found in Gundia basin

Sl. Species Endemism Ecological status
  Family: Bufonidae    
1 Bufo parietalis Boulenger, 1882 Endemic Near threatened
2 Bufo brevirostris* Rao, 1937 Endemic  
  Family: Microhylidae    
3 Ramanella mormorata* Rao, 1937 Endemic Endangered
4 Ramanella triangularis*(Günther, 1876) Endemic Vulnerable
5 Ramanella minor* Rao, 1937 Endemic  
  Family: Micrixalidae    
6 Micrixalus saxicola (Jerdon, 1853) Endemic Vulnerable
7 Micrixalus elegans* (Rao, 1937) Endemic  
  Family: Petropedetidae    
8 Indirana semipalmatus (Boulenger, 1882) Endemic Least concern
9 Indirana gundia*(Dubois, 1986) Endemic Cr. Endangered
10 Indirana longicrus*(Rao, 1937) Endemic  
11 Indirana tenuilingua*(Rao, 1937) Endemic  
  Family: Dicroglossidae    
  Sub-family: Dicroglossinae    
12 Fejervarya limnocharis Gravenhorst, 1829   Least concern
13 Fejervarya rufescens (Jerdon, 1853) Endemic Least concern
14 Euphlyctis cyanophlyctis (Schneider, 1799)   Least concern
15 Minervarya sahyadris Dubois, Ohler & Biju, 2001 Endemic Endangered
16 Fejervarya sp.    
  Family: Rhacophoridae    
  Sub-family: Rhacophorinae    
17 Philautus cf. leucorhinus Lichenstein & Martin, 1857 Endemic Extinct in Sri Lanka
18 Philautus flaviventris* Boulenger, 1920 Endemic  
  Family: Nyctibatrachidae    
19 Nyctibatrachus aliciae Inger, Shaffer, Koshy & Bakde, 1984 Endemic Endangered
20 Nyctibatrachus kempholeyensis*(Rao, 1937) Endemic  
21 Nyctibatrachus sylvaticus* Rao, 1937 Endemic  
  Family: Ranidae    
22 Clinotarsus curtipes Jerdon, 1854 Endemic south India Near threatened
23 Sylvirana temporalis Gunther 1864 Endemic south India Near threatened

Figure 2.4: Distribution of Indirana gundia (source:

Reptiles: Table 2.10 provides the checklist of the reptiles found in this region. 2 types of lizards and 29 different types of snakes are found in this region contributing to its biological research. The different habitats ranging from evergreen forests to the deciduous forests, grasslands and riparian vegetation proves best niche for most of the rare and some endemic snake species at Gundia and peripheral regions. Snake species like Phipson’s Shieldtail, Montane Trinket Snake, Beddome’s Keelback, Ceylon Cat Snake, Forsten’s Cat Snake, Brown Vine Snake (Figure 2.5), Striped Coral Snake, Beddome’s Cat Snake, King Cobra, Hump Nosed Pit Viper, Bamboo Pit Viper, Malabar Pit Viper are endemic to Western Ghats and are quite well represented in this region. They are quite specific to micro climatic conditions and are dependent on specific habitat.

Table 2.10: Reptiles of Gundia basin

Sl. Scientific Name Common Name IUCN Status
1. Varnus bengalensis (Daudin, 1802) Common Indian Monitor Lizard VU
2. Calotes sp. Lizard  
3. Ophiophagus hannah (Cantor, 1836) King Cobra LRnt
4. Naja naja (Linnaeus, 1758) Spectacled Cobra LRnt
5. Hypnale hypnale (Merrem, 1820) Common hump-nosed pit viper LRnt
6. Trimersurus malabaricus (Jerdon, 1853) Malabar Pit Viper LRnt*
7. Echis carinatus carinatus (Schneider, 1801)  South Indian Saw-scaled Viper LRnt**
8. Chrysopelea ornata  ornata (Shaw, 1802) Indian Ornate Flying Snake LRnt
9. Xenochrophis piscator piscator (Schneider, 1799) Water Snake Lrlc
10. Ahaetulla nasuta (Lacepede, 1789) The Vine Snake LRlc
11. Ptyas mucosus mucosus (Linnaeus, 1758) The Rat Snake LRnt
12. Python molurus molurus (Linnaeus, 1758) Python LRnt
13. Uropeltis phipsonii (Mason, 1888) Phipson’s Shield Tail  
14. Python molurus molurus  (Linnaeus, 1758) Indian Rock Python  
15. Gongylophis conicus (Wagler, 1830) Common Sand Boa  
16. Coelognathus Helena Helena  (Daudin, 1803) Common Indian Trinket snake  
17. Coelognathus Helena monticollaris (Daudin, 1803) Montane Trinket snake  
18. Argyrogena  fasciolata (Shaw, 1802) Banded Racer  
19. Oligodon arnensis (Shaw, 1802) Banded Kukri Snake  
20. Lycodon aulicus (Linnaeus, 1758) Common Wolf Snake  
21. Sibynophis subpunctatus (Duméril & Bibron, 1854) Dumeril’s Black Headed Snake  
22. Xenochrophis piscator (Schneider, 1799) Checkered Keelback Water Snake  
23. Amphiesma stolatum (Linnaeus, 1758) Buff - Striped Keelback  
24. Macropisthodon plumbicolor (Cantor, 1839) Green Keelback  
25 Amphiesma beddomei (Günther, 1864) Beddome’s Keelback  
26. Atretium schistosum (Daudin, 1803) Olive Keelback  
27. Boiga trigonata (Schneider, 1802) Common Indian Cat Snake  
28. Boiga ceylonensis (Günther, 1864) Ceylon Cat Snake  
29. Boiga forsteni (Duméril, Bibron & Duméril, 1854) Forsten’s Cat Snake  
30. Ahaetulla pulverulenta (Duméril & Bibron, 1854) Brown Vine Snake  
31. Daboia russelii  (Shaw & Nodder 1797) Russel’s Viper  
32. Trimeresurus gramineus (Shaw, 1802) Bamboo Pit Viper  

Figure 2.5: Brown Vine Snake  and Lizard of Gundia river basin

Avian Diversity: Ninety one species of birds were found to be present in this region (Table 2.11). The Riparian vegetation of Hongadahalla, Battekumri halla and Kempholé harbours most of the species. Riparian and disturbed Semi-evergreen patches of Hongadahalla area harbour more species. Birds are specific to vegetation and also the topography, though they fly long distances. They are dependent on micro and macro habitat, food, nesting and roosting places, safety. Though they adapt to some extent, they are very much dependent mainly on habitat. 14 species of birds are endemic to Western Ghats. Of these during the current field work, birds like Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Malabar Parakeet, Rufous Babbler, White Bellied Blue Flycatcher, Malabar Grey Hornbill were sighted in Gundia and peripheral regions. Hornbills like Malabar Hornbill and Great Pied Hornbill; woodpeckers like Lesser Golden Backed Woodpecker, Great Black Woodpecker, Heart Spotted Woodpecker; Owls like Great Horned Owl, Mottled Wood Owl, Jungle owlet and several tree dependent species nests in large tree holes. They prefer old and large trees to scoop the bark and nest. Several birds are quite important for seed dispersal like the Hornbills for dispersing Myristica malabarica, Dillenia pentagyna, Ficus species seeds to distant areas. These seeds when defecated by birds will sprout well. Many smaller nectar birds like sunbirds are dependent on nectars of flowers, hence helps in pollination. Several species of woodpecker, barbets help in maintaining healthy woody trees by feeding on stem boring insects, termites etc.  One of the near threatened birds which is endemic to Western Ghats – the Malabar pied hornbill (Anthracoceros coronatus) protected under schedule III of WPA 1972was observed in the region. Indian peafowl (Pavo Cristatus) which belongs to the Scheduled I of protected animals according to the Wild life protection act 1972 was observed in the region.

Table 2.11: Birds found in Gundia basin

Sr.No. Scientific Name Common Name IUCN Status
1. Phalacrocorax niger (Vieillot) Little Cormorant LC
2. Lardeola grayii (Sykes) Paddy bird or Pond Heron LC
3. Falco tinnunculus L., Kestrel LC
4. Gallus sonneratti Temminck Grey Jungle fowl  
5. Amaurornis phoenicurus (Pennant) White breasted Water hen LC
6. Streptopelia chinensis (Scopoli) Spotted Dove LC
7. Chalcophaps indica (L.,) Emerald Dove LC
8. Psittacula cyanocephala (L.,) Blossom headed Parakeet LC
9. Apus affinis (J.E. Gray) House Swift LC
10. Halcyon smyrnensis (L.,) White breasted Kingfisher LC
11. Merops orientalis Lantham Small Green Bee-eater LC
12. Anthracoceros coronatus (Boddaert) Malabar Pied Hornbill NT
13. Buceros bicornis (L.) Great pied Hornbill NT
14. Ocyceros griseus (Latham) Malabar grey hornbill LC
15. Psittacula columboides (Vigors) Malabar parakeet LC
16. Cyornis pallipes (Jerdon) White bellied blue flycatcher LC
17. Dryocopus javensis (Horsfield) Great black woodpecker LC
18. Megalaima zeylanica (Gmelin) Large Green Barbet LC
19. Dinopium benghalense (L.,) Lesser Golden backed Woodpecker LC
20. Columba elphinstonii (Skyes) Nilgiri wood pigeon Vu
21. Dicrurus paradiseus (L.,) Racket-tailed Drongo LC
22. Acridotheres tristis (L.,) Indian Myna LC
23. Dendrocitta vagabunda (Lantham) Tree Pie LC
24. Corvus macrorhynchos Wagler Jungle Crow LC
25. Chloropsis cochinchinensis (Gmelin) Gold mantled Chloropsis LC
26. Irena puella (Lantham) Fairy Bluebird LC
27. Pycnonotus cafer (L.,) Red vented Bulbul LC
28. Hypsipetes indicus (Jerdon) Yellow browed Bulbul  
29. Rhopocichla atriceps Black headed Babbler LC
30. Terpsiphone paradisi (L.,) Paradise Flycatcher LC
31. Zoothera citrine cyanotus Lantham White throated Ground Thrush  
32. Monticola cinclorhynchus (Vigors) Blue headed Rock Thrush LC
33. Motacilla flava L., Yellow Wagtail LC
34. Nectarinia zeylonica (L.,) Purple rumped Sunbird LC
35. Pycnonotus priocephalus (Jerdon) Grey headed bulbul NT
36. Lonchura malacca (L.,) Black headed Munia LC
37. Bubo virginianus (Gmelin) Great horned Owl LC
38. Strix ocellata (Lesson) Mottled wood owl LC
39. Glaucidium radiatum (Tickell) Jungle Owlet LC
40. Francolinus pondicerianus Grey partridge LC
41. Dicrurus leucophaeus Ashy drongo LC
42. Muscicapa dauurica Asian brown flycatcher LC
43. Megalaima zeylanica Brown-headed Barbet LC
44. Acrocephalus dumetorum Blyth’s Reed Warbler LC
45 Loriculus vernalis Indian Lorikeet LC
46. Merops orientalis Small Green Bee-eater LC
47. Dicrurus caerulescens White-bellied Drongo LC
48. Streptopelia chinensis Spotted Dove LC
49. Sitta frontalis Velvet-fronted Nuthatc LC
50. Eudynamys scolopacea Asian Koel LC
51. Milvus migrans Black kite LC
52. Temenuchus pagodarum Brahminy Starling  
53. Carpodacus erythrinus Common Rosefinch LC
54. Accipiter trivirgatus Crested Goshawk LC
55. Chalcophaps indica Emerald Dove  
56. Chloropsis aurifrons Gold-fronted Chloropsis LC
57. Tringa ochropus Green Sandpiper LC
58. Cuculus micropetus Indian Cuckoo  
59. Ardeola grayii Indian Pond Heron LC
60. Acridotheres fuscus Jungle Myna LC
61. Ardeola striatus Little green Heron  
62. Sturnus blythii Malabar White-headed Starling  
63. Ducula badia Mountain Imperial-Pigeon LC
64. Copsychus saularis Oriental Magpie-Robin LC
65. Cypsiurus parvus Palm Swift LC
66. Psittacula cyanocephala Plum headed parakeet LC
67. Hirundo daurica Red-rumped Swallow LC
68. Vanellus indicus Red-wattled lapwing LC
69. Nectarinia minima Small Sunbird LC
70. Scolopax rusticola Woodcock LC
71. Nycticorax nycticorax Chestnut Bittern LC
72. Haliaster indus Brahminy kite  
73. Corvus macrorhynchos Jungle crow  
74. Tachybaptus ruficollis Little grebe LC
75. Pericrocotus flammeus Orange Minivet  
76. Treron pompadora Pompadour green pigeon LC
77. Ficedula albicilla Red-throated Flycatcher  
78. Pericrocotus cinnamomeus Small minivet LC
79. Accipiter nisus Sparrow-Hawk  
80. Cyornis tickelliae Tickell’s Blue-Flycatcher LC
81. Alcedo atthis Small Blue Kingfisher LC
82. Circus aeruginosus Marsh Harrier  
83. Harpactes fasciatus Malabar Trogon LC
84. Arachnothera longirostra Little Spiderhunter  
85. Ducula badia Mountain Imperial-Pigeon LC
86. Plain Flowerpecker Dicaeum concolor  
87. Anthus hodgsoni Oriental (Olive-backed) Tree Pipit LC
88. Egretta intermedia Median egrett  
89. Dendrocygna javanica Lesser Whistling Teal LC
90. Phylloscopus trochiloides Greenish Leaf-Warbler  
91. Pavo cristatus Indian Peafowl LC

Mammals: Mammalian diversity is quite interesting and unique to the Western Ghats, most of them elusive and is always amongst the thick wooded region. The Nilgiri Martin, Travancore Flying Squirrel, Common Flying Squirrel, Indian Civet, Palm Civet, Slender Loris being mostly either nocturnal or elusive, quite specific to the wooded regions of Western Ghats. Similarly Royal Bengal Tiger, Sloth Bear, Indian Bison, Leopard, Barking Deer, Indian Mouse Deer, Asian Elephant, Wild Dog, Lion Tailed Macaque, Pangolin, Porcupine are habitat dependent animals and are not well adaptive with slightest disturbances. Many of them like Asian Elephant, Leopard, Tiger, Sloth Bear, Indian Bison stray out and reasons for man-animal conflict. Most of the above species are protected under schedule 1 of WPA 1972. Lion Tailed Macaques are quite elusive but very much social animal, living in troops on trees, feeding on Dillenia pentagyna, Myristica malabarica, Ficus species etc. Several patches of Reeds, Bamboos, Ficus trees, Jackfruit attracts elephants more as they are their favourite fodder. They raid crops when these patches are being denuded or cut down and habitat fragmentation. Due to reduction in grazing patches, several grazing animals like the Indian Bison stray out to crop fields and plantation, resulting in man animal conflict. Tiger straying into the human habitation is mainly due to less availability of prey animals and also the fragmented habitats.

Table 2.12: Mammals of  Gundia basin

Sl. No. Scientific Name Common Name Status
1. Bos gaurus (H. Smith, 1827) The Gaur Vu
2. Cervus unicolor (Kerr, 1792) Sambar LRlc
3. Elephas maximus L., 1758 Asian Elephant Vu
4. Felis chaus (Schreber, 1777) Jungle Cat LRnt
5. Petinomys fuscocapillus (Jerdon, 1847) Travancore Flying Squirrel Vu
6. Funambulus palmarum Linnaeus Three-striped Palm Squirrel LRlc
7. Herpestes edwardsi (E. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1818) Common Indian Mongoose LRlc
8. Hystrix indica (Kerr, 1792) Indian Porcupine LRlc
9. Lepus nigricollis (F. Cuvier, 1823) Black-naped Hare LRlc
10. Macaca radiata (E. Geoffroy, 1812) Bonnet Macaque LRlc
11. Macaca silenus (Linnaeus, 1758) Lion tailed Macaque En
12. Manis crassicaudata (Gray, 1827) Indian Pangolin LRnt
13. Melursus ursinus (Shaw, 1791) Sloth Bear Vu
14. Loris lydekkerianus malabaricus Sender Loris NT
15. Muntiacus muntjak (Zimmermann, 1780) Barking deer LRlc
16. Panthera pardus (Linnaeus, 1758) Leopard  
17. Panthera tigris (Linnaeus, 1758) Tiger En
18. Presbytis entellus (Prater, 1971) Hanuman Langur LRlc
19. Ratufa indica indica (Erxleben, 1777) * Indian Giant Squirrel Vu
20. Sus scrofa cristatus Wagner Wild Boar LRlc
21. Tragulus meminna (Erxleben, 1777) Mouse Deer LRnt
22. Viverricula sp. Civet Cat  

Some faunal species that are highly endemic and featuring in Red List of IUCN have also been observed in this region and its surroundings. These species have a limited distribution and very less populations and hence, their presence testifies the ecological importance of this region too. The details of such species is described here:

  1. Lion tailed Macaque - Macaca silenus, commonly known as Lion-tailed macaque, is categorized as Endangered by the IUCN Red List and is endemic to the rainforests of the Western Ghats. This belongs to the Scheduled I of protected animals according to the Wild life protection act 1972. Habitat loss and fragmentation has seriously affected this species (Karanth, 1992) and its population has declined drastically with its becoming local extinct in some areas. Karanth (1992) has emphasized the importance of lion-tailed macaques as flagship species for the rapidly declining rainforests of this biodiversity hotspot. Karanth (1985) had reported the presence of 4, 1, 6 and 2 groups of lion-tailed macaques in Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Subrahmanya Reserve forests and Sakaleshpur reserve forests. Whereas, Kumara and Sinha (2009) reported the presence of just two groups lion-tailed macaques in Pushpagiri - Subrahmanya region having four and five individuals respectively. Their study shows an overall decline of 69% in the groups of same study areas surveyed by Karanth (1985). Shrinkage and fragmentation of habitat have resulted in sharp decline in lion-tailed macaque populations across the state and thus, they emphasize the need to investigate more areas having these macaque populations and develop conservation strategies for their protection. If this is not done, these macaques may have to face extinction. Figure 2.5 maps the habitat of LTM in Gundia river basin.

    Figure 2.5: Lion Tailed Machaque and its Habitat in Gundia River Basin

    Lion Tailed Macaque and its Habitat in Gundia River Basin
  1. Travancore Flying Squirrel - Petinomys fuscocapillus, commonly known as Travancore Flying squirrel, is one of the small flying squirrel and is expected to be present in some parts of the Western Ghats. This belongs to the Scheduled I of protected animals according to the Wild life protection act 1972. This species was rediscovered from Kerela after a gap of 70 years by Kurup (1989) and after a couple of years it was reported from Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu by Umapathy (1998). However, there were no sight records of this squirrel from Karnataka state until Kumara and Singh (2005a) reported it from Makut Reserve forests and later Kumara (2007) reported it from Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary and Shravathi Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. All the sightings were from western foot hills and slopes of Western Ghats, having high rainfall and humidity. This species has been accredited as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List and requires more study and conservation strategies.
  1. Slender Loris - Slender lorises in India have two sub-species namely Loris lydekkerianus lydekerrianus which prefers drier form of habitat and other Loris lydekkerianus malabaricus which prefers the wet form of habitat. L. lydekkerianus malabaricus is commonly known as Malabar Slender Loris and is found in the rainforest of Western Ghats (Kumar, 2006). Slender lorises are small, often solitary and nocturnal. The Slender Lorises of India are assigned to the category of Near Threatened by IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and have been assigned highest level of protection under Schedule I, of  Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Kumara (2007) has recorded the sightings of Slender Loris in Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary (Figure 2.6).

    Figure 2.6: Slender Loris and its distribution in Karnataka (via Gundia basin) [Source: Kumara (2007)]

  1. Tiger - The Indian Tiger, Panthera tigris, is  a very powerful symbol (keystone species) associated with different cultures around the world. However, in last many years it has been extensively hunted and captured leading to a sharp decline in the population across the world especially in India. It has been regarded as endangered to critically endangered in the IUCN Red List and lot of agencies and people have been working for its conservation. This Keystone species belongs to the Scheduled I of protected animals according to the Wild life protection act 1972.  Tigers require a large habitat to fulfill their needs but due to habitat fragmentation they are left with limited resources and often encounter human settlements leading to human-tiger conflicts. The presence of tiger pug marks in Bisle Reserve forest and cases of cattle attack in nearby areas points to the presence of tiger in this area indicating this area to be ecologically sensitive and requiring conservation (Figure 2.7).

    Figure 2.7: Tiger Corridor (map on LHS) and Pugmark of a Tiger (Right side photograph -pugmark substantiates its presence in the Gundia river basin), Cattle killed by a tiger in Bisle area

  1. Land snail - The genus Indrella is monotypic. Indrella ampula an endemic species (Figure 2.8) of the Central Western Ghats were sighted in Gundia river basin (wet forest patches of Yetinhalla dam site, Mallali waterfalls). It prefers wet habitat and reported earlier on slopes of Anamalai and Nilgiri ranges and in Waynad region. This species also exhibits colour polymorphism. Its presence highlights the biodiversity significance of the region.

    Figure 2.8: Indrella ampula – a land snail pleading KPCL not to submerge its habitat

  1. Grey headed Bulbul - The Grey headed bulbul, Pycnonotus priocephalus, is a poorly known endemic species to the Western Ghats (Balakrishnan, 2008). It has a very limited distribution and is usually found in high rainfall areas. It is categorized as Near Threatened by IUCN Red List for Threatened species. The presence of this bird was recorded in Brahmagiri and Subrahmanya Reserve forests (Mudappa & Shankar Raman, 2008).
  1. Nilgiri marten - Martes gwatkinsii, commonly known as the Nilgiri marten (Figure 2.9) is one of the largest and rarest Indian mustelids and is endemic to the Western Ghats. Mudappa (1999) has reported that it prefers moist and tropical rainforests with an altitude of 300 - 1200 m as its habitat. The marten is legally protected under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 (schedule II), is listed on Appendix-III of the Convention of Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and is categorized as Vulnerable by IUCN Red List. However, habitat destruction, fragmentation and hunting of Nilgiri marten are hurdles in its conservation. The presence of Nilgiri marten has been reported in Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary by Schreiber in 1989.  Figure 2.9 is the photograph of Nilgiri Marten in Bisle forest.

    Figure 2.9: Nilgiri marten

  1. Malabar pied Hornbill - The Malabar pied Hornbill, Anthracoceros coronatus, is distributed in the forests of India and Sri Lanka. This species is frugivorous (Reddy 1990) and is found to be occurring in mixed deciduous, riparian and moist deciduous forests. It has been classified as Near Threatened by IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This bird species was reported by Gururaja from Gundia river catchment area. This belongs to the Scheduled I of protected animals according to the Wild life protection act 1972.
  1. Elephant - The elephants occupy very large areas and are regarded as ‘Umbrella species’ because if they are conserved, a lot of other species occupying that same area will also be conserved. They are also regarded as premier ‘Flagship species’ and sometimes also called ‘Keystone species’ because of their important role in ecology and environment. The Asian elephants have been described as endangered by the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (Appendix-1) and by Appendix 1 of the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) in 1975. The Mysore Elephant Reserve was notified by the Karnataka Government in November, 2002. It covers the total area off 6,724 The Bisle Reserve Forest of Gundia Basin, vide the said GO (FEE 231 FWL 2000, 25/11/2002), constitutes a vital part of the Mysore Elephant Reserve. It covers an area of 3,339 ha(survey details). It adjoins Kempholé Reserve Forest in north and Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary in the south. It is an integral and important part of the Mudumalai – Nagarholle – Brahmagiri – Mathodi Corridor (Figure 2.10, LHS) and Nagarhole – Malambi – Dodabetta – Hemavati Migratory Path (Figure 2.10, Right Hand Side –RHS)

    Figure 2.10: Gundia river basin is an integral part of Elephant Corridror

Annexure I provides the people’s biodiversity register of Hongadahalla village panchayath, which further substantiates the bioresource’s diversity and richness

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