Developing a Salamander Conserving Area through Breeding of Himalayan Salamander and involving the community around in Namthing Pokhri, Darjeeling Dist, WB

Out of the 209 amphibian species of India, the Himalayan Salamander, Tylototriton Verrucosus Anderson is the only one in which the larval tail is retained throughout its life as it totally aquatic ancestors and therefore regarded as a living fossil. The species is included in the Scheduled II of Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

During the course of the study of the project ‘Estimation of population trends of Endangered Wildlife of West Bengal’ sponsored by the Ministry of Environment and Forest, New Delhi, investigating team of NEWS had found that populations of Himalayan Salamander has declined or even totally wiped out from many of its erstwhile habitat. Most of these habitats have totally been destroyed or are located near some urban areas or tourist spots. Local boys used to collect Salamanders and sell them to the tourists.

But NEWS team also found a fairly good population of Salamanders in Namthing Pokhri Area. Namthing Pokhri is a small seasonal water body of the eastern Himalaya in Kurseong Division, Darjeeling District. it lies at an altitude of 1500 m. The region is scarcely populated. Outsiders or tourists rarely visit the area owing to isolated location as well as lack of infrastructure of facilities such as electricity, drinking water etc. So it appeared that this sight is ideal for conservation and captive breeding project of Himalayan Salamanders.

Funded By: Public affairs Section, Embassy of United States of America, New Delhi, India
Project Duration: October 2002 (2 year)

To study the preference of habitats and microhabitat by the species and the physico-chemical parameters of land & water.

Construction of fencing encompassing the Pokhri so that no one can intrude without permission.

Establishment of a laboratory and herpetorium to study the behaviour and carry out captive breeding programme.

Survey of neighbouring seasonal or perennial water bodies to locate further viable population of Himalayan Salamander.

Organising awareness camps to generate consciousness regarding conservation of Himalayan Salamander. Also to develop a local NGO to look after the conservation after the project is over

A Salamander Conserving Area was developed in Namthing Pokhri, Darjeeling Dist, WB and an NGO with local people has formed for sustainable conservation.

Preference of habitats and microhabitat by the species and the physico-chemical parameters of land & water were also studied.

A laboratory and herpetorium was established where the behavioural study and captive breeding programme was carried out.

A plantation around the Pokhri was conducted to minimize soil erosion and beautification of the place.

A small population of Salamander has been found by the team in Panch pokhri – a local adjacent waterbody during the survey of neighbouring seasonal or perennial water bodies.