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Threatened Faunal Species in Meghalaya

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India is rich in bird’s diversity with a total of 1167 species including 80 globally threatened birds and 49 endemics. The country has 465 Important Bird Areas and is a part of 12 Endemic Birds Areas.

Despite its relatively small size, Meghalaya is rich in bird life hosting about 659 species of birds. 34 species of the birds found in our forests are globally threatened species. Meghalaya lies in the Eastern Himalayas (Endemic Bird Area 130) (Statterfield et al. 1998). The region is important for many globally threatened, near threatened and restricted range species. Five restricted range species from this EBA have been reported from the state (Table 1)

Table 1: Endemic Bird Area 130 (Eastern Himalayas)

Endemism Common Name Scientific Name
Endemic Bird Area 130-Eastern Himalayas Grey Sibia Heterophasia gracilis
Dark-rumped Swift Apus acuticauda
Tawny-breasted Wren Babbler Spelaeornis longicaudatus
White-naped Yuhina Yuhina bakeri
Black-browed Leaf- Warbler Phylloscopus cantator

Table2: Threat status of Birds in Meghalaya

Status Common name Scientific name
Critically Endangered Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps bengalensis
Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris
Endangered White-winged Duck Cairina scutulata
Vulnerable Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga
Wood Snipe Gallinago nemoricola
Dark-rumped Swift Apus acuticauda
Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis
Tawny-breasted Wren-Babbler Spelaeornis longicaudatus
Near Threatened Darter Anhinga melanogaster
Lesser Grey-headed Fish-Eagle Ichthyophaga humilis
Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus
White-cheeked Hill-Partridge Arborophila atrogularis
Blyth’s Kingfisher Alcedo hercules
Great Pied Hornbill Buceros bicornis
Brown Hornbill Anorrhinus tickelli

Reptiles

The reptile fauna of Meghalaya is greatly influence by the Indo-Chinese elements. The diversity of reptiles comprises of 12 species of turtles and tortoises, 26 species of lizards and 56 species of snakes.

The Assam roofed turtle Pangshura sylhetensis was first reported from the Khasi Hills and is one of Asia’s Most Endangered Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles (IUCN) 2007. Most of the turtles and tortoises in Meghalaya are threatened with 5 species listed under the Endangered, 1 species Near Threatened, 4 species Vulnerable and 2 species Least Concern categories. (IUCN Category 2014)

26 species of lizards have so far been recorded from the state. All the 3 species of monitor lizard found in the state are protected under Schedule I (Part II) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The Tokay Gecko Gekko gecko is one of the largest Geckos alive today and is also found in the state. Another rare lizard is the Calotes maria found only in Mizoram and Meghalaya. (Annual Report 2011-2012). Other species of the genus Calotes includes C. jerdoni, C. emma and C. versicolor. Skink includes Sphenomorphus courcyanum, S. indicus, S. maculatus, Eutropis carinata and E. multifasciata. Recently in 2013 a new species of skink Sphenomorphus apalpebratus was describe from the sacred forest of Mawphlang. (DATTA-ROY et al. 2013). This shows the huge diversity of lizards in the state.

Meghalaya is also rich in snake’s diversity with about 56 species. Some of the common snakes are Brahminy Blind snake Indotyphlops braminus, Assam snail Eater Pareas monticola, Copperhead Rat Head Coelognathus radiatus and Indian-Chinese Rat Snake Ptyas korros. Etc. The world longest venomous snake 'The King Cobra' Ophiophagus hannah is also found in the state. Other venomous snakes include kraits like the rare Himalayan krait Bungarus bungaroides, Black Krait B. niger, Banded Krait B. fasciatus and vipers like the Green Pit vipers Trimeresurus albolabris, Jerdon’s Pit Viper T. jerdoni etc. Some of the very elusive and rare snakes of Meghalaya are striped neck snake Liopeltis frenatus, Chinese Many-tooth Snake Sibynophis chinensis, Khasi Keelback Amphiesma khasiensis, Gunther’s Keelback Amphiesma modestum, Mountain Keelback Amphiesma platyceps, Cherrapunji Keelback Amphiesma xenura, and Khasi Earth Snake Stoliczkaia khasiensis.

Amphibians

The richest expression in diversity and abundance of amphibians of the North East India is met with in Meghalaya with about 33 species. Bufoides meghalayanus and Philautus shillongensis are two frog species that are endemic, rare and threatened, found in Meghalaya. Some of the very rare and elusive frogs found in the state are Philautus cherrapunjiae, Rana mawlyndipi, Rana mawphlangensis, Hyla annectans and Microhyla berdmorei etc.

Pisces

Meghalaya exhibits a twin drainage system namely the Brahmaputra in the North and Barak in the South. Because of the topography of the region and its water shed pattern the state of Meghalaya is rich in fish diversity with about 152 species reported so far.

Neolissochilus hexagonolepis and Tor spp. are the important sport fishes inhabiting the fast flowing rivers and streams of the state. 29 species of the fish found in the state are threatened in one way or the other.

Mollusca

A total of 223 species of land and freshwater molluscs spread over 67 genera and 28 families are known from Meghalaya.

Fresh water molluscs are represented by 35 species, 15 genera and 10 families. The genus Paludomus is abundantly represented in the hill streams and two of the species, namely Paludomus regulate and P. stephanus are endemic to Meghalaya.

Land dwelling molluscs flourish and abound in the moist hill forests of the state. Some of the species are restricted and endemic to Meghalaya. Of the species endemic to the state, include five species each belonging to the genus Alycaeus and Diplommatina, two of Cyclophourus, one each of Pupina and Gastroptychia, three of Macrochlamys, two of Oxytes, one each of Khasiella, Kaliella, Taphrospira, Amphidromus and Lamellaxis.

The fresh water molluscs that occur in streams and other aquatic bodies also serve as food for the local people. Seven species are used for human consumption. eg: Bellamya bengalensis f. typica, B. dissimilis, Pila theobaldi etc.

A. Fresh Water Molluscs   B. Land Molluscs Total
Family 10 18 28
Genera 15 52 67
Species 35 188 223