The Hindu: In the fine company of flying frog

Travelogue in The Hindu: In the Fine Company of Flying Frog

The interesting clicks by Adityavikram More
 
 
Return to frontpage
CHENNAI, March 6, 2015
Updated: March 6, 2015 19:42 IST

In the fine company of flying frog

  • HERE A CROAK, THERE A CROAK In the forest with frogs for company Photos: Adityavikram Motwane

    HERE A CROAK, THERE A CROAK In the forest with frogs for company Photos: Adityavikram More

 
  • HERE A CROAK, THERE A CROAK In the forest with frogs for company Photos: Adityavikram Motwane

    HERE A CROAK, THERE A CROAK In the forest with frogs for company Photos: Adityavikram More

 
  • HERE A CROAK, THERE A CROAK In the forest with frogs for company Photos: Adityavikram Motwane

    HERE A CROAK, THERE A CROAK In the forest with frogs for company Photos: Adityavikram More

AREFA TEHSIN

Arefa Tehsin basks in the natural riches of Amboli’s protected forests

With a bull frog in my hands, his legs dangling right up to my knees, I stood waiting on a jungle-flanked road for the rest of the group to emerge from the night mist and drizzle. “Look at the Malabar pit viper!” urged my husband and I asked him to check what lay in my hands first. I held the frog as the small group of nature buffs gathered around me, their jaws dropping. But the bull frog, though it may be a crowd puller, is not the star attraction of Amboli: the land of the flying frog.

Located in South Maharashtra in the Sahyadri hills of the Western Ghats near Goa, Amboli stands tall at 2,500 feet above sea level. Although it is comparatively unexplored and less visited, it is one of the world’s biodiversity hot-spots. A winding road through forested Ghats, high waterfalls and brash local traffic, takes you to the village of Amboli, also known as the Cherrapunji of Maharashtra due to the high rainfall received per annum. In monsoons, the hilly rainforests are cloaked in thick mist. At the mouth of River Hiranyakeshi stands the ancient Shiva temple, Hiranyakeshwar. Water emerges from an adjoining cave and passes from a kund.

There are possibly also numerous undiscovered species of insects and amphibians in this mythical region. As you walk through one of the many trails that lead you in and around the rainforests (the whole area is declared protected) you come across myriads ofinsects, frogs, birds, snakes, wildflowers, medicinal plants, caecilians and even scorpions, many of which are unique to the region. Through the diffused glow of the sun, a scarlet minivet might glare at you for imposing; a Malabar pit viper may play statue till you pass by, or a butterfly may sit nonchalantly, rubbing its wings to confuse a probable predator. The green of the vegetation is sprinkled with the colours of bedecked butterflies, caterpillars, suspended dragon flies and fluffy-winged emerald doves, crimson-backed sunbirds, and yellow-whiskered and brown-browed bulbuls, among others. You walk through the ethereal paths, through dense billows of fog, moving lethargically like a full-bellied lizard. A gust of wind may clear your path momentarily, presenting you with a brief view of undulating green, rainforest-clad hills and valleys. There is an abundance of moss and fungi on the hanging, overlapping vegetation. And there is an abundance of leeches too!

Night walks are a must-do if you’re in Amboli, seeking its copious herpetofauna. It is the best time to meet your hosts — the snakes and frogs. Just as all birds don’t sing, all frogs don’t croak. The sound of a plopping water drop may be the love call of a frog. Fireflies and glow worms appear like night spirits from the mist. Snakes are out and you can easily miss them sitting contracted and static in their attacking postures, if you don’t have an expert with you, like Mrugank, a local researcher at Bombay Natural History Society. While everyone walks protected by leech socks and rain gear, he walks in his T-shirt, shorts and flip flops, wading in water, stepping in the darkness beyond bushes and lifting rocks to catch a snake or a frog in action. You may find a wrinkled frog resting or protecting its eggs, or a burrowing frog flapping mud, a common toad mating, or an Amboli tree frog just gazing into the dark. A green vine snake may pose for you or a keelback may send a silent warning as you approach with your lens, or a shield tail may just try to slither away, unnoticed.

Or, the local star may make an unannounced appearance. The Malabar flying frog, most active at night, leaps out of tree tops, stretches its parachute-like pink, webbed toes, and glides in the forest air. It can jump up to 12 metres, 115 times its length. This beautiful, vivid, green moss frog can be seen by day guarding its foam nest. The flying frog has a hassle-free childbirth plan. The nests are strategically situated above water so that the tadpoles can hatch out of the eggs and fall directly into the water.

Amboli is a lovers’ spot; for princesses looking for frogs to kiss, for nature lovers looking for hopping, slithering and chirping beings. The flying frog’s abode is a delight to even those not in love. As Khalil Gibran said, “Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s