Matheran’s stone walls taking away habitat of reptiles, say naturalists

Development work has started as MMRDA MatheranWildlife enthusiasts and experts alike believe that laying stone walls and chain link fences will create hurdles for reptiles trying to cross from side to side.

Matheran's wallExperts say the walls cover small reptiles but also hinder the movement of several other species

Four viewpoints were included in the development work – Panorama, Myra, Heart and Echo. Sixty percent of the work was completed after the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Matheran Monitoring Committee, Forestry Department and Matheran Municipal Council gave their approval.

Naturalist and nature lover Omkar Patil said, “The wall has resulted in a loss of wildlife habitat that a layperson would not notice. The snakes that rely on camouflage have been exposed, and we have seen bamboo pit vipers and vine snakes hanging from such railings The cover is peeled off, they find less food and have a shorter lifespan. They are also exposed to poachers. “

Also read: Slow pace of road works from Irks Matheran Locals

“Do you know the innate beauty”
Nature lovers have also claimed that the modernization over the years and the new walls have reduced the visibility of frogs and snakes. “Matheran is more than just a toy train, lodges and horse rides. It’s a beautiful habitat that should be protected. Inclusion in the ecologically sensitive zone is important and makes people aware of its innate beauty,” said Patil.

Cat snake MatheranMatheran reptiles: a cat snake catches a prey; (right) a bronze back tree snake. Images: Omkar Patil

Species of snakes found in Matheran include the saw-scaly viper, krait, spectacle cobra, checkered keelback, striped keelback, Russell viper, green grapevine snake, and slender coral snake. Amphibians sighted in the area include the Indian bullfrog, common Indian toads, including the skittering frog, cricket frog, narrow-necked frog, etc. Gecko species include the banded gecko, the rock gecko, and Roux’s forest lizard. There are also different types of skinks.

Matheran jumps frogA jumping frog in Matheran. Image: Omkar Patil

Herpetologist Varad Giri said, “The stone structure is both good and bad. Good because it makes a decent hiding place for many small reptiles. Also, it appears to be quite porous. It is bad because it inhibits the movement of rural dwellers become a barrier. “

Matheran's spiderAn Indian tree spider discovered in Matheran. Image: Omkar Patil

Development struggle
It also seems that there is a dispute between the pro-development and anti-development factions. Sunil Shinde, a resident, said: “Over 2,000 trees fell during Cyclone Nisarga and an activist visited Matheran to see the damage. They have never planted a seed in the city, but want to stop development. If they are really serious think they could have found one. ” Solution for unloading horse manure. “

Proportion of completed work

Number of points that are embellished in the development work

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