JavaScript must be enabled in order for you to use the Site in standard view. However, it seems JavaScript is either disabled or not supported by your browser. To use standard view, enable JavaScript by changing your browser options.

 
| Last Updated:: 01/07/2019

Chip to help track, aid conservation of Indian pythons

 

 

 

 

Though they are large and heavy-bodied, Indian pythons, being ambush predators, are hard to track.

 

 

 

To study their movement and habitation, researchers at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), in association with the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (STR) managers, have embedded radio telemetry chips in 10 Indian pythons (Python molurus) from the Sathyamangalam forest, a couple of months ago. As part of the project, field director of STR V Naganathan told TOI that 20 pythons from the wild will be trapped in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.

 

 

WII researcher C Ramesh said, “Understanding the spatial ecology, which includes movement and habitat of endangered species, is essential to conserve the species and also mitigate the human-wildlife conflict. Lack of understanding of how wildlife moves in relation to landscape structure and resource availability is a major constraint to maintain their population, which lead to their local extinction,” he said.

 

 

The research team will determine home ranges across the sexes and seasons, as well as explore correlations of python movements with environmental parameters. Apart from this every python has a unique pattern on its body. Once a reptile is photographed, with the pattern along with the telemetry data the reptile’s habitat preference and activity period can be identified. The study period is two years.

 

 

The data on python activity with respect to space, time and environmental factors will help in providing information on difference in dispersal capacity between various life stages of the species.

 

 

The study is being carried out in Moyar river valley, adjacent to Sigur plateau in the Nilgiri biosphere reserve. The terrain is hilly and the altitude of the study area ranges from 300m to 950m. This area receives good rain from both the northeast and southwest monsoons, he said.

 

 

The pythons used for the study were located by tracking their shed skins, rat holes, termite mounds and dense hedgerows. Each python is measured and weighed. The captured pythons were embedded with four transmitters. Each transmitter weighs 0.3% of each snake’s body weight. After embedding the transmitters, the pythons were kept under observation for 24 hours, Ramesh said.

 

 

High resolution information of movement pattern will help estimate buffer zones across various python habitats. The ecological information from the study would add a new dimension to impact assessment studies. Information on snake movement will also help wildlife managers to be prepared for rescue operations, he added.

 

 

 

 

Source: The Times of India, 01 July, 2019, Chennai.