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Herpetofauna of Maharashtra Nature Park, Mumbai, Maharashtra (India)


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Volume 1, Issue 2: 90-99

Open Access

Research Article

90 Walmiki et al.

Herpetofauna of Maharashtra Nature Park, Mumbai, Maharashtra (India)

Walmiki Nitin 1-3, Vijay Awsare1, Siddhesh Karangutkar1-3, Vishal wagh1-2, Bhaskar Yengal1-3, Shailesh Salvi2, and Rishab Pillai3


ECO-ECHO D/85 Meghwadi, Dr S.S Rao Road, Lalbaug, Mumbai -12


SARRP, Gorai-2, Borivali (W), Mumbai-91


CON (Care of Nature), District Raigad, Uran, Veshvi

Corresponding author: nitinwalmiki007@gmail.com


Mumbai (lat 180 54’ to 190 09’N long 720 47’ to 720 56’E) one of the major cities in India is encircled with various water bodies such as Ulhas estuary and Bassein creek in the north; Thane creek and Mumbai harbor in the south east; and Arabian sea on the westAround 37 sq km of mangroves existed in Mumbai, in early nineties which largely covered areas of Thane creek, Mahim, Versova, Gorai and Ghodbunder with sporadic patches at Bandra, Malabar hill and Colaba. Mumbai has probably lost 40% of all its mangroves in past decade or so, largely due to reclamation for housing slums, sewage treatments and garbage dumps though Mumbai sustains rich biodiversity in few green fragmented natural or man- made habitats. Reptiles and amphibians face numerous challenges for coexistence in the urbanized world and habitat degradation is the primary cause of population decline for both these groups. Maharashtra Nature Park (MNP) is best example of one such habitat’s. MNP is located in highly polluted and densely populated area around the largest slums in Asia knows as Dharavi. MNP was once a dumping ground for nearly 27 years. In 1983 Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) restored it into semi natural forest. Presently, this nature park supports rich herpetofaunal diversity. The studies were conducted from 25th September, 2010 - 25th December, 2011 and have reported 44 species belonging to 18 families from MNP.

Keyword: Herpetofauna, Mangroves, Nature Park, Reptiles, Amphibians

1.0 Introduction:

Mumbai is one of the most populated cities in the world, called to be the business capital of India, fourth most populous city in the world situated at the mouth of Ulhas River on the western coast of India, in the coastal region known as the Konkan. It sits on Salsette Island, partially shared with the Thane district,bounded by the Arabian Sea to the west, average annual temperature is 27.2 °C (81 °F) comprising of three seasonal cycle viz. summer, monsoon, and winter represents a tropical wet and dry climate.Current population of Mumbai is estimated to be around 20.5 million. It is expected that the world population growth in the next thirty years will be mostly concentrated in the urban areas (United Nations, 2004) leading to even more rapid degradation of pockets of remnant natural habitats. Such huge population gives out a variety of pollution in abundant quantities. Besides being a densely populated and a polluted city, Mumbai holds rich



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increases downstream. The present average depth of the river at the centerline is only 5.5 m. Mithi river empties into Mahim creek which drains into the bay. Mahim bay is the second largest bay in Mumbai city. The border between the city and its suburbs bisects the bay (2008 J.G Koliyar). Mithiriver which ultimately joins Mahim creek is surrounded by residential areas of Police colony, Fisherman colony and many slums surrounded the river. The span from Mahim creek to Dharavi has a very thick mangroves and area includes Maharashtra Nature Park and Salim Ali Bird sanctuary.

Earlier a garbage dump, the area was convinced by WWF- India in 1976, to make a nature park. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) undertook the project to restore and develop the place as sophisticated nature park and completed work after 12 years. The park is considered as one of the greatest achievements towards preserving the biodiversity in India. MNP has earned reputation for being a green lung of Mumbai city. The vegetation mainly comprises of perennial tress such as Azadirachta indica, Bauhinia purpurea, Aegle marmelos, Alstonias cholaris, Albizia lebbeck, Anacardium occidentale, Annona squamosa,

Anthocephalus cadamba, Achras sapota, Artocarpus heterophyllus, Barringtonia racemosa, Morinda tinctoria, Bombax ceiba, Cassia fistula, Delonix regia, Casuarina equisetifolia, Citrus sps, Couroupita guianensis, Cordia dichotoma, Butea monosperma

and mangroves such as Avicennia marina, Avicennia officinalis and associated mangroves species viz. Acanthus ilicifolius, Thespesia populnea, Salvadora persica, Ipomoea sps.covering 40% of its total area. Around 20 out of the 35 species of true mangroves found in India have been identified along the Maharashtra coast and 15 species of these are found inMumbai. Mumbai city receives average temperature in summer varies between 30- 360c, while average winter temperature varies between 16- 220c. The average annual precipitation is 2500 mm seasonal rainfall for four months from June to September, of which 70 per cent is during July and August. All such conditions support good varieties of Reptiles and Amphibians. There is no recent study made on herpetofauna of Nature Park or urban areas in Mumbai. The present study therefore stands important through which the Reptilian and Amphibian diversity of MNP from Mumbai has been documented.

Figure 1: Map of Maharashtra Nature Park

2.0 Materials and Methods:

Survey was carried out on foot in different seasons, twice in each month from 25nd September 2010 to 25th December 2011. Total 32 visits were made in 16 months. The conducted survey was done with the help of visual encounter method (Champbell and Christman, 1982) employing randomized walk,



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Encountered specimens were observed photographed and identified using literature and field guide (Smith 1931, 1943, Ahmed, Das and Dutta 2009, NeelimkumarKhaire 2008, Whitaker 2009) after confirming specimen was released back at same place in MNP. The status of Species encountered during the study is evaluated considering the following sighting as shown in below table;

Table 1: Sighting frequency at MNP

Status Number of Sighting Common >15

Uncommon 6-15

Rare 1-5

3.0 Observations:

According to our survey 44 species of 18 families comprising 24 Serpents, 12 Sauria, 5 Anurans and 3 Terrapin has observed, of which Xenochrophis piscator, Ptyas mucosa, Lycodon aulicus, Daboia russelii, Hemidactylus frenatus, Hemidactylus flavivivardis, Calotes versicolor, Mabuyacarinata, Duttaphrynus melanostictus, Hoplobatrachu stigerinus, Euphlytis cyanophlyctis, Lissemy spunctata are some of the common species and

Argyrogena fasciolata, Macropisthodon plumbicolor, Dendrelaphis trsitis, Cereberus rynchops, Trimeresurus gramineus, Hemidactylus leschenaultia, Calotes rouxii, Mabuyamacularia, Hydrophylax malabarica, Melanochelystrijuga are occasionally sighted, Whereas Eryx jonhii, Enhydrina schistosa, Hemidactylus maculates, Varanus bengalensis, Chamaeleo zeylanicus, Lygosoma punctata, Geochelone elegans have been rarely sighted in studied area.

Since the MNP and its surrounding mangroves are concentrated in a small area, so the species were easily encountered. Six deadly venomous species were observed of which Bungarus caeruleus, Enhydrina schistosa, Naja naja are Neurotoxic in nature and Daboia russelii, Echis carinatus, Trimeresurus gramineus are Hemotoxic in nature.

Python molurus molurus and Varanus bengalensisare observed in all possible habitats. Cereberus rynchops, Enhydrina schistosa, Acrochordus granulatus are aquatic species sighted in mangroves area adjacent to Mithi River near MNP fallowed by Mahim creek. Introduced species such as Eryxjonhii, Trimeresurus gramineus, Chamaeleo zeylanicus, and

Geochelone elegans have well-adjusted to MNP. During Monsoon season Anuran species with

Amphiesma stolatum, Calotes versicolor, Ramphotyphlops braminuswere easily sighted whereas Daboia russelii is abundantly sighted in month of June and September. Eryx jonhii was rarely sighted i.e. thrice in studied area.

Figure A: Russell’s viper (Daboia russelii)



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Figure C:

Indian star tortoise (

Geochelone elegans))

Fig D: Indian rock python (Python molurus) Fig E:Bamboo pit viper(Trimeresurus gramineus)



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Fig G: Banded kukri (Oligodon arnensis) Fig H: Common Indian tree frog (Polypedates maculates)

Fig I: Fungoid frog (Hydrophyla xmalabarica) Fig J: Indian common toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus)



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Fig L: Common cat snake (Boiga trigonata) Fig M: Buff striped keelback (Amphiesma stolatum)

Fig N: Indian bark gecko ( (Hemidactylus leschenaultii)



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Fig P: Mating of Hemidactylus flaviviridis

Table 2: Herpetofauna checklist of Maharashtra Nature Park

Sr no. Common name Scientific name Status Habitat

Family: Boidae

1 Indian rock python Python molurus Uc Ab, Tr, Rs, Aq

2 Common sand boa Gongylophis conicus C Rs

3 Red sand boa Eryx jonhii Uc Rs

Family: Colubridae

4 Indian rat snake Ptyas mucosa C Ab, Tr, Aq

5 Banded racer Argyrogena fasciolata Uc Tr

6 Banded kukri Oligodon arnensis C Tr

7 Common wolf snake Lycodon aulicus C Ab, Tr, Rs 8 Checkered keelback Xenochrophi spiscator C Aq, Rs 9 Buff striped keelback Amphiesma stolatum C Tr, Rs 10 Green keelback Macropisthodon plumbicolor Uc Tr, Rs

11 Common cat snake Boiga trigonata Uc Ab, Tr

12 Common trinket snake Coelognathus Helena helena Uc Ab, Tr 13 Bronze back tree snake Dendrelaphis trsitis Uc Ab

14 Green vine snake Ahaetulla nasuta R Ab

15 Dog Faced water snake Cereberus rynchops Uc Aq Family: Elapidae

16 Common Indian krait Bungarus caeruleus Uc Tr, Rs

17 Spectacle cobra Naja naja C Tr, Rs

18 Hook nosed sea snake Enhydrina schistosa R Aq Family: Viperidae

19 Russel’s viper Daboia russelii C Tr, Rs

20 Saw scaled viper Echis carinatus Uc Rs, Tr

21 Bamboo pit viper Trimeresurus gramineus Uc Ab Family: Typhlopidae

22 Brahminy worm snake Ramphotyphlops braminus C Rs 23 Beaked worm snake Grypotyphlops acutus Uc Rs Family: Acrochordidae




Walmiki et al. Family: Gekkonidae

25 Brook’s gecko Hemidactylus brookii C Tr, Rs

26 South asian house gecko Hemidactylus frenatus C Ab, Rs 27 Yellow green house gecko Hemidactylus flaviviridis C Ab, Rs 28 Spotted rock gecko Hemidactylus maculates R Ab, Tr, Rs 29 Bark gecko Hemidactylus leschenaultia Uc Ab Family: Agamidae

30 Indian garden lizard Calotes versicolor C Ab, Tr

31 Forest lizard Calotes rouxii C Ab, Tr

Family: Varanidae

32 Bengal monitor lizard Varanus bengalensis R Ab, Tr, Aq Family: Chamaeleonidae

33 Indian Chamaeleon Chamaeleo zeylanicus R Ab Family: Scincidae

34 Keeled grass skink Mabuya carinata C Tr, Rs

35 Bronze grass skink Mabuya macularia C Tr, Rs

36 Snake skink Lygosoma punctata Uc Tr, Rs

Family: Bufonidae

37 Indian common toad Duttaphrynus melanostictus C Tr, Rs, Aq Family: Dicroglossidae

38 Indian bull frog Hoplobatrachus tigerinus C Tr, Rs, Aq 39 Skittering frog Euphlytis cyanophlyctis C Aq Family: Rhacophoridae

40 Common Indian tree frog Polypedates maculates Uc Ab, Aq Family: Ranidae

41 Fungoid frog Hydrophylax malabarica Uc Ab, Tr, Rs, Aq Family: Trionychidae

42 Mud or Flap shell Terrapin Lissemys punctata C Aq Family: Emydidea

43 Indian pond terrapin Melanochelys trijuga Uc Aq Family: Testudinidae

44 Star Tortoise Geochelone elegans R Tr


HABITAT: - Arboreal-Ab, Teresstrial- Tr, Rocks and Stones-Rs, Aquatic-Aq STATUS: - Common-C, Uncommon- Uc, Rare-R

Fig. 2: Percentage Status of Herpetofaunal diversity in MNP with Un (Uncommon), C (Common) and R(Rare)


45% 14%





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Fig.3: Habitat of herpetofaunal diversity in M.N.P

Fig.4: Bar diagram representing species richness according to specific habitat Viz Aq (Aquatic), Rc (Rock crevices), Tr (Terrestrial), Ar (Arboreal) with R (Rare), Uc (Uncommon) and C (Common).

4.0 Conclusion:

The study revealed 45% species are Common (n=20) showing 33.3% Arboreal, 52% Terrestrial, 60.9% in Rock-crevices and 42.9 % Aquatic Habitat. The Uncommon species 41% (n=18) includes 44.4% Arboreal, 36% Terrestrial, 34.8% Rock-crevices and 42.9% Aquatic Habitat. Whereas 14% species are rarely (n=6) sighted showing species richness in various habitat includes 22.2% Arboreal, 12%Terrestrial, 4.3% Rock-crevices and 14.3%

Aquatic habitat (Fig.2 - 4). Six species are deadly venomous of which five are observed in park and one Enhydrina schistosa in the adjacent low salinity area of Mithi River. Hemidactylus flaviviridis mating was also observed which was last for about 40 minutes (Figure P).

Daboia russelii is commonly and abundantly sighted in MNP. So the encountered rate is gradually high for the visitor. On an average 1,50,000 visitors visit MNP annually, But there are no such incidence of snake 0

5 10 15 20 25 30

Arboreal Terrestrial Rocks crevices Aquatic

Arboreal Terrestrial Rocks crevices Aquatic

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70

ar tr rc aq

R C Uc








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bite in MNP till date, due to its excellent management. Majority of species belong to 31% of Terrestrial habitat followed by 29% of Rock crevices, 23% of Arboreal and 18% of Aquatic habitat. The study shows that previously called dumping ground, now artificially man made park is outstanding for its rich bio-diversity. Majority of conservation efforts are focused on preservation of bio diversity in pristine ecosystems however, many human dominated and modified landscapes are biodiversity rich and thus offers great opportunities to conserve at least a portion of its diversity.

5.0 Acknowledgments:

We appreciate all the cooperation we got from the volunteers of SARRP, Eco-Echo and CON NGO’s ( Mr.Mayank Desai, Mr.Jigar Parmar, Mr.Pawan Sharma, Mr.Ajit Sonawne, Mr.Santosh Shinde, Mr. Benedict frenandes, Mr. Nisarg Kubal, Mr.Amar Patil, Mr.Rupesh Sagvekar and Mr.Niraj Singh) for working during field work. We are grateful to Dr. Vaishali somani, Shri. Sanjoy Monga, Shri. Raju vyas, Shri. Anil kubal and along with zoological staff of M.D College for encouraging in research work. We express our gratitude towards Shri. Avinash Kubal for allowing permission in MNP.


1) Khaire, N. (2008). A guide to the snakes of Maharashtra Goa and Karnataka, united Multicolour Printer Pvt. Ltd. Pune.

2) Raut,N and Pendharkar .A (feb, 2010) :Butterfly(Rhopalocera) fauna of Maharastra Nature Park, Mumbai, Maharastra, India, Checklist journal.

3) Monga, S. 2005. Maharastra Nature Park back to Nature. Mumbai: Nature Colours.

4) Daniel, J. C. (2002): The book of Indian Reptiles and Amphibians. Bombay Natural History Society and Oxford University Press. Mumbai, 5) Whitaker, R. and Captain, A. (2008): Snakes of

India- The field guide, Drako Books, Chennai. 6) JayadityaPurkayastha, Urban herpetofauna: a

case study in Guwahati City of Assam, India. Herpetology Notes, volume 4: 195-202 (2011). 7) Murthy, T.S.N. 2010. The reptile fauna of India.

B.R. Publishing, New Delhi, 332 pp.

8) Smith,M.A. 1935. The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Reptiles and Amphibia, Vol. II. Sauria. Taylor and Francis, London, 440 pp.

9) Molur, S., Nameer, P.O. and Walker, S. (1998): Report of the Workshop “Conservation Assessment and Management Plan for Mammals of India” (BCCP- Endangered species project), Zoo outreach Organization, Conservation Breeding Specialist group, India, Coimbatore, India.

10) J.G Koliyar and N.S Rokade.(2008): Water quality in Powai lake, Mumbai, Maharastra. 12th world lake conference: 1655-1659.

11) K.Tulsi Rao et al (2005). Herpetofauna of Nallamalai hills with eleven new records from the region including ten new records from Andhra Preadesh. Zoo’s Print Journal 20(1):17401-9.

12) Myers, N., R.A. Mittermeier, C.G. Mittermeier, G.A.B. da Fonseca & J. Kent (2000). Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403: 853-858.


Figure 1:  Map of Maharashtra Nature Park
Table 1: Sighting frequency at MNP
Fig F: Checkered keelback  (Xenochrophis piscator)
Fig G: Banded kukri (Oligodon arnensis)


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