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Herps by chance



On one of my trekking and avifauna trips between 17th and 19th October 2021 in the central region of Nepal, Sindhupalchowk district. Our group had started our journey from Kathmandu on a very cloudy day. During our stay at a hotel in Deurali, we stumbled upon the Paha frogs that were kept for drying in the kitchen. We identified Ombrana sikimensis as one of the species of the Paha frog. Later, the hotel owner offered us the Paha frog to eat but we refused. The Paha frog is a delicacy in this Himalayan region; a major source of diet for the local people, and thus, whenever we stopped at different locations, we could see the Paha frog on the menu.


During the day, the frogs hide under the rocks or in the rocky crevices alongside the small mountain streams with pools and riffles caused by torrential cascades. The frogs are of medium to large size, with females (60.5-88 mm) usually larger than males (63 mm). They have a rounded snout, visible supra tympanic folds and an inconspicuous tympanum. The body colour ranges from reddish-brown to black (Shrestha et al., 2019).


Fig. Paha frog (Ombrana sikimensis) hunted for food and leisure.


The Paha frog is hunted widely in the mountains of Nepal. They are primarily harvested for food, medicinal uses, and not surprisingly, as a leisure activity (Shrestha & Shah, 2017). This, among other reasons like habitat alteration and climate change, has led to its population decline. The Paha frog is the subject of several research studies but conservation and protection measures are still lacking.


We didn’t encounter other species of herpetofauna on our trip but did come across different bird species due to their rich diversity in this region. My primary interest is birdwatching but my interest in herpetofauna persists. Whenever I go birdwatching, I tend to spend most of my time on herps when I stumble upon the species found in that region. If my birdwatching trip takes me to a wetland, grassland, or into forest, I not only look up at the branches or sky for birds but also at the ground by flipping rocks and searching through scattered leaves for herps. Due to my avid interest in photography, I am keener on capturing herpetofauna due to their unique morphology.


The habitats where most herpetofauna is found support the diversity of various wildlife species as they are integral to maintaining an ecological balance. Due to my avid interest in photography, I am keener on capturing herpetofauna due to their unique morphology. Generally, bigger and more attractive species are given more attention and funding while smaller species like amphibians and most reptiles are neglected. In Nepal, I have observed that very few people work towards conservation and awareness of herpetofauna.

Amphibians and reptiles need conservation due to various threats in remote areas and increasing global warming effects. I believe that more education, training, workshops, and awareness programs related to herpetofauna should be conducted to build up the interest of people and the new generation for their conservation in future.


References:


Shrestha, B., B. Pandey, and B. Gautam. 2019. Conservation Guidelines for the Paha Frogs from Unchecked Harvest in the Northern Regions of Bhojpur district, Nepal. Resources Himalaya Foundation and SAVE THE FROGS!


Shrestha B, Shah KB. Mountain survey of amphibians and reptiles and their conservation status in Manaslu conservation area, Gorkha District, Western Nepal. Conserv Sci. 2017;5(1):13–18.


Nikeet Pradhan


Nikeet is studying for his Bachelor's degree in Forestry at the Faculty of Forestry, Agriculture and Forestry University, Nepal. He is passionate about photographing birds and herps.

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Nikeet Pradhan
Nikeet Pradhan
Jan 01, 2023

Thank you HerpClub for providing the wonderful oppurtunity.

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