Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Wednesday, August 12, 2020

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Sand Snake Spotted after 70 Years Source: The Hindu 31/07/17)


Sighting in Seshachalam hills raises possibility of more discoveries in region



           Wildlife biologists have sighted an Indian Sand Snake (Psammophis condanarus) in the Seshachalam forests, 70 years after it was earlier seen in south India.

       The mildly venomous snake is widely distributed in eastern, northern and central India, including parts of the Himalayan foothills, Bengal, Indo-Gangetic plains, north-western arid desert zones including Pakistan and northern parts of the Deccan plateau, but is not seen in the south. A recent research article in Journal of Threatened Taxa by S.R. Ganesh of the Chennai Snake Park, Vivek Sharma of the Government Model Science College, Jabalpur and M. Bubesh Guptha, wildlife consultant at biolab of Seshachalam Hills, Tirupati, describes the find. Dr. Guptha spotted the snake in a grassy patch early in the morning at Kapila Theertham, in the Tirumala foothills, in 2013.


                   Another sighting was made by Mr. Sharma at Hospet in Karnataka’s Bellary district. The Seshachalam biolab functions under the Forest Department’s Tirupati Wildlife Management Circle. The snake has a smooth and glossy body with a fairly large head and protruding snout. It is about 53 cm long, with the tail alone measuring 8 cm.


            “In 1943, S. Ali reported a similar species from Bandipur near the Western Ghats abutting Mysore plateau on the basis of a single specimen recovered from the stomach of a short-toed eagle. After that, this is by far the clearest sighting of sand snake in south India,” Dr. Guptha told The Hindu.


            Working at present in the Pitchandikulam forest, Auroville (near Puducherry), Dr. Guptha has published many books on various species, on rediscovery and new sighting records. He sighted the Sri Lankan flying snake in 2015 in Chamala valley, which was the first ever sighting in India and reported in The Hindu.


Biodiversity riches


               The sighting of the Nagarjunasagar racer, Gooty Tarantula, yellow-collared wild snake, brown vine snake, slender coral snake, shield tail snake and many more new varieties bears testimony to the biodiversity richness of the Seshachalam habitat, the researchers say. “More research may bring to light other rare and new species here,” Dr. Guptha felt.