An invertebrate faunal survey organised by the Forest department has affirmed the status of the Mankulam reserve forests as a biodiversity hotspot.
Numerous bird, odonate and butterfly species were detected during the three-day expedition that was recently held in association with the Thiruvananthapuram-based non-governmental organisation Travancore Natural History Society (TNHS) to prepare a faunal inventory for the working plan of the critical wildlife area.
The survey covered all the base camps spread across the Mankulam reserve forests that covers the unique geographical transition of lower Periyar Valley to the Munnar high ranges.
As many as 265 butterfly species, including 29 Western Ghat endemics, were detected in the reserve. Some of the interesting finds were Malabar rose, Malabar raven, Malabar-banded Swallowtail, Nilgiri grass yellow, Nilgiri clouded yellow, Ward’s Albatross, Red-disc Bushbrown , Palni Four-ring , Creamy Sailer , Southern blue oakleaf , Malabar tree nymph , Nilgiri tiger , White-disc hedge blue , Sahyadri Rosy Oakblue , Yellow-striped Hedge Hopper, and Yellow-base Flitter.
The biodiversity hotspot also has an odonate population of 111 species including 34 that are endemic to the Western Ghats. Anaciaeschna martini Selys, 1897 , Chlorogomphus xanthoptera (Fraser, 1919) , Asiagomphus nilgiricus Laidlaw, 1922 , Macromia ellisoni Fraser, 1924 , Idionyx saffronata Fraser, 1924 , Idionyx travancorensis Fraser, 1931 , Euphaea cardinalis (Fraser, 1924) , Protosticta davenporti Fraser, 1931 , Protosticta monticola Emiliyamma & Palot, 2016, and Protosticta sanguinostigma Fraser, 1922, are some of the species that were found.
The survey team also noted the presence of endemic birds including Nilgiri wood pigeon, broad-tailed grassbird, grey-headed bulbul, Waynand laughingthrush, Grey-breasted laughingthrush, white-bellied blue flycatcher, Nilgiri flycatcher, and black-and-orange flycatcher. Twelve ant species, three species of cicadas, 12 species of herpetofauna, including the endemic bushfrogs Raorchestes jayarami and Raorchestes sushili, were also seen.