Guwahati, Friday, February 3, 2012
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Guwahati reptiles withstand urbanization onslaught

 Guwahati, Feb 3 (IANS): Despite rapid urbanization, the herpetofauna population of Guwahati has not been severely affected. There are some 63 species of herpetiles in this Assam city.

"This is good news and can be termed as one of the best average populations," said herpetofauna researcher Jayaditya Purkayastha after release of his book "Urban Herpetofauna: Amphibians and Reptiles of Guwahati" on World Wetland Day on Thursday.

The book, which aims at generating interest and inform school students regarding herpetofauna, was released by Saibal Sengupta, considered to be an authority on the subject here.

"The fact that we have 63-odd species, including 17 species in the Deepor Beel -- the lone Ramsar site in Assam -- is a good one compared to the global statistics," he said, adding that there are only 6,800 species of herpetofauna globally.

According to International Union for Conservation of Nature data, there are only 16,318 herpetofauna species worldwide -- 9,547 species of reptiles and 6,771 species of amphibians.

"There has been rapid habitat alteration for every species and it is a global phenomenon due to development in various sectors. We cannot stop that as development is necessary," Purkayastha told IANS.

"However, if urbanization continues at the present rate, the population will be affected in our region too very soon," he said.

The young researcher also rued the fact that the northeastern region, which has been identified as one of the two biographic hotspots after the Western Ghats, is still data deficient regarding the herpetofauna population.

Not many studies have been conducted in this part of the country to record the amphibian and reptile population scientifically. "I am sure many new species will be recorded in states like Arunachal Pradesh once there is a scientific study," he added.

He said misinformation, superstitions and lack of interest among people in these animals is hindering the conservation process.

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