It has become difficult to find frogs and toads in Assam

By Neelam Singh
Published: Sunday 30 November 2003

The Amolops gerbillus: waiting (Credit: Saibal Sengupta) "Borjan is an area of high human pressure, so the decline is but natural," says Saibal Sengupta, a lecturer with the zoology department of Arya Vidyapeeth College, Assam, who along with his colleagues conducted the study.

The situation in Nameri was no different. Six out of 20 species recorded in 2001 showed a 50 per cent decrease in population density in 2003. Nine were not found. "The possible causes of decline in all the areas are extensive destruction of wetlands, reduction in rainfall and degradation of woodland forests," informs Sengupta. "In some cases, one species is more affected in a particular area than the other. Such a pattern hints at specific reasons for decline, like the availability of food for the species in one area but not in others."

More than 200 amphibian species are found in India, of which 72 are reported from the Northeast. "An inventory of amphibian fauna for the whole of Assam does not exist; information is available only for selected patches (mainly national parks)," tells Sengupta. This, according to him, should be a cause for concern -- many species may become extinct, without humans being aware of their existence. The researchers hope their findings will help initiate some conservation measures. They are also conducting studies in Dibru-Saikhowa -- the biggest national park of Assam -- and the Jeypore reserve forest.

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