This PhD student from Kerala wants to show the world that there is more to Indian wildlife than just tigers and elephants

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This PhD student from Kerala wants to show the world that there is more to Indian wildlife than just tigers and elephants
  • Das is currently pursuing his doctoral studies in the area of amphibians of Munnar at the Kerala Forest Research Institute.
  • Das's peculiar interest in frogs, particularly the purple frog.
  • He is also a winner of the Kerala State Wildlife Photography Award.

For Sandeep Das, photography was more of a necessity rather than a passion. While pursuing his graduation in zoology, Das used to frequent the wetlands near his home to study birds. Soon he realised that he needed to take up photography to help present his findings to a scientific community to prove the unusual sightings of the rare and exotic birds he spotted. He began as a novice shooting pictures, randomly. Now, he is a winner of the Kerala State Wildlife Photography Award.

Das is currently pursuing his doctoral studies in the area of amphibians of Munnar at the Kerala Forest Research Institute. He is also a fellow of Zoological Society of London on the research and conservation of Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) Purple Frog aka Mahabali Frog ( Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis).

His key area of interest remains amphibians and, to some extent, reptiles. They essentially share the same ecosystem, and both are primarily nocturnal. So, if you study one, you are bound to bump into the other frequently.
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Das's peculiar interest in frogs, particularly the purple frog, stems from the fact that smaller animals, unfortunately, do not receive the attention they deserve, unlike larger animals like tigers, elephants and most birds. The incredible nature and capabilities of these tiny creatures are what Das wants to bring to the limelight.


Melanobatrachus -- Galaxy Frog (Scientific name: Melanobatrachus indicus)

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This PhD student from Kerala wants to show the world that there is more to Indian wildlife than just tigers and elephants
Sandeep Das

Photographed while with Rajkumar KP, another EDGE fellow working towards conservation of this endangered beauty. This is one of the rarest, evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered frogs of the Western Ghats. Very little is known about this species, but studies are underway.

Purple Frog aka Mahabali Frog (Scientific name: Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis)

This PhD student from Kerala wants to show the world that there is more to Indian wildlife than just tigers and elephants
Sandeep Das

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The proposal for declaring the purple frog as the state amphibian was submitted to the forest department by Das, primarily because the living fossil of this creature is evidence for India's prehistoric landmass connectivity with Africa. Frogs cannot tolerate salinity. So there is no way they could have swam across the oceans. Das and his fellow scientists named it "Mahabali frog" as it emerges from under the ground for only one day, like Kerala's mythological King Mahabali, who was banished to the underworld and given permission to meet his subjects in Kerala on Onam day.

This PhD student from Kerala wants to show the world that there is more to Indian wildlife than just tigers and elephants
Sandeep Das

Unfortunately, however, the Purple Frog on its way to the breeding site often gets run over by vehicles, one of the significant threats faced by these amphibians.

Raorchestes resplendens/ Resplendent Shrub Frog (Scientific name: Raorchestes resplendens)
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This PhD student from Kerala wants to show the world that there is more to Indian wildlife than just tigers and elephants
Sandeep Das

Once thought to be found only in the Anamudi summit, Das and his team later found them in several adjoining areas.

Large-scaled Pit Viper (Scientific name: Trimeresurus macrolepis)

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This PhD student from Kerala wants to show the world that there is more to Indian wildlife than just tigers and elephants
Sandeep Das

One of the common pit vipers found in the Western Ghats, they are found in the mountains of Agasthyamala, higher reaches of AchanKovil forests, Periyar hills, Meghamalai, Anamalais (including Munnar, Idukki and Valparai) and Nelliyampathy hills. They are a widely distributed species in the mountains of Kerala and Tamil Nadu -- found in an elevational range of 700 to 2500 metres above sea level. These snakes are best seen in Munnar as they are common in plantations and roadside bushes. Major threats are habitat conversion and linear intrusions, including roads.

Brown Dispar/Gunther's Vine Snake (Scientific name: Ahaetulla dispar)

This PhD student from Kerala wants to show the world that there is more to Indian wildlife than just tigers and elephants
Sandeep Das

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Found in the high elevation mountains of Anamalais. These Vine Snakes are harmless to humans, but they are mildly venomous, which is essential in bringing down their prey, including tiny frogs, other snakes, lizards etc.

Green Reed Frog/Chalazodes Bubble Nest Frog (Scientific name: Raorchestes chalazodes)

This PhD student from Kerala wants to show the world that there is more to Indian wildlife than just tigers and elephants
Sandeep Das

Another critically endangered species, this one is endemic to the Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve. They breed inside reed clumps. They are direct-developing frogs whose eggs directly hatch out into tiny froglets.
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