1. Olive Ridley Mass Hatching lights OFF!
  2. Star Tortoise vs Olive Ridley Turtle
  3. [Newfound] Dancing frogs in Western Ghats
  4. Dwarf Gecko, Maharashtra
  5. Sengi Elephant Shrew, Africa
  6. Deaths from Snake bites

Olive Ridley Mass Hatching lights OFF!

  • IUCN status: “endangered”
  • Olive Ridleys are found in warm waters of Indian, Pacific and Atlantic ocean.
  • Odisha coast is their largest mass hatching site, particularly the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary along the coastline of Kendrapara district.
  • “Arribada” means mass nesting of female olive ridley turtles
  • Breeding season: November to May. After ~50 days, the eggs hatch and baby turtles move towards the beach.
  • But only 1/1000 survive and reach adulthood.

Topic is in news because:
Officials have ordered the people to turn off their lights during hatching. Why?

  • Once Baby turtles (Hatchlings) come out of the sand nest, they move towards sea.
  • BUT if they see bright light (coming from those houses), they move towards houses instead of diving into the sea.
  • That’s why civilians ordered to turn off the lights during night.
  • Additionally, officials have also installed nets surrounding these nests to prevent the babies from moving towards land.

Star Tortoise vs Olive Ridley Turtle

Why in news:

  1. Olive ridley turtles: hatching Tamilnadu
  2. Indian Star Tortoise: Kerala officials arresting smugglers.

Difference Turtle vs Tortoise

Indian Star Tortoise Olive Ridley Turtle
  • spends most lifetime on land
  • Comes near water for drinking & cleaning.
  • in water
  • comes to land mainly for mating and egg-laying
  • Cannot swim in deep water.
  • hence doesn’t migrate over long distance
Shell (carapace) is rounded dome, allows them to hide for protection. cannot hide body inside shell dome (observe photo)
Mostly herbivorous: eat cactus, grass, weed for moisture. Omnivorous: eat both sea-plants & fish
feet are short, bent, have claw like structure to climb rocky land. Webbed feet. No nails. Evolved for sailing long distance.
  • Natural habitat: Rain shadow area of Marayur forest, Kerala
  • Prefer dry area, shrubs-grassland forest.
  • Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean.
  • Warm Ocean preferred. Hence confined to 30 Degree north to 15 Degree South.
life span: beyond 80 years (in captivity) 20-30-50 years
IUCN status: Least concern IUCN status: Vulnerable

  1. Smuggled as “exotic pet” due to small size & distinct shell.
  2. Habitat loss due to bush fires, cattle grazing, floods.
  3. meat used in some dishes

  1. egg harvest by men
  2. egg predation by dogs & birds
  3. Fishing trawls use fine nets, accidently catch babies.
  4. habitat destruction, climate change affecting mating and migration routes.
  5. skin for belts and purses. (Although reduced because of CITES)
reptile of Chelonian family same

Related topic: what’s the difference between Ghariyal and crocodile? Take that as home work!

[Newfound] Dancing frogs in Western Ghats

Dancing frogs western ghats

  • Official name: Micrixalus kottigeharensis
  • Location: only in Western Ghats – MH, KN, TN and Kerala. Western Ghats global amphibian hot-spot. 180+ amphibian species endemic to Western Ghats.
  • Who found them? Delhi University professor Sathyabhama Biju (previously found purple frogs)

Why are they called Dancing frogs?

  • Male frog dance to attract females. Technical term: ”foot flagging”.
  • Usually male frogs use croaking sound to attract females
  • But these dancing frogs’ Size too small: almost like a bee. Hence their croaking is barely hearable in the fast flowing streams of Western Ghats. Hence dancing style as an adaptation.
  • These frogs evolved 85 million years ago, but only 11 species from this family were discover till yet.
  • Threat: perennial streams are drying out. Agriculture encroachment.

Following two species Gecko and shrew were found in June, but I’ve have included them in May edition for continuity in revision.
Dwarf gecko

Dwarf Gecko, Maharashtra Sengi Elephant Shrew, Africa
  • Special feature: rounded pupil in their eyes. Other geckos have cat like eyes.
  • Official name: Cnemaspis Girii.
  • Discovered by disciples of Dr. Varad Giri of Bombay Natural History Society (hence the name Girii)
  • Autotomy: when an animal discards one of its body organs to ward off predators. Gecko discards its tail, later grows it back.
  • Macroscelides micus: new species of Sengi /  elephant shrew found in Namibian desert
  • have monogamous relationship
  • Unique feature: round-ears that look like miniature elephant.
  • Called “Afrotheria” i.e. a diverse group of animals that have African origin e.g. Elephant, Sengis, sea cows etc.

Deaths from Snake bites

  • In India, there are 300 different snake species=> 66 are venomous=> 61 of them rare.
  • 4 Major killers: Spectacled cobra, Russel’s viper, Saw scaled Viper, Common Krait.
  • Telangana and Andhra Pradesh= highest number of snake bites.

Reason and challenges:

  • Juntaa lacks awareness about snakes, their habitat and habits.
  • Junk filled neighborhoods => rats breed => snakes come for food.
  • Garbage dump not cleaned regularly => snakes use’em for shelter.
  • Agrarian encroachment in jungle area. Snakes don’t bite humans unless they feel threatened.
  • Anti-venom very expensive, ~3000 rupees per shot.
  • Pharma companies only manufacture anti-venoms against those 4 killers. Lack of research against venom of other species.
  • Illiterate villagers take patient to quacks and witchdoctors.
  • Lack of transport and communication infrastructure in interior part. Victim dies before reaching hospital in time.
  • If victim arrives late, the doctor gives him large dose of anti-venom- sometimes leading to side effects, shock and death.

First-aid in Snake Bite

  1. To control anxiety, reassure the victim that death is not imminent and medical care is available.
  2. Otherwise, he’ll panic=> heart rate increase=> venom spreads through blood more quickly.
  3. Remove shoes, rings, watches, jewelry and tight clothing.
  4. Immobilize the victim’s bitten limb using a splint and lightly put a bandage.
  5. Be prepared for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
  6. Do not freeze or apply extreme cold to the area of bite.
  7. Do not apply any kind herbal or folk remedy.
  8. Do not attempt to suck out venom with your mouth.
  9. Do not give the victim alcohol, drugs, tea, coffee etc.

Mock questions for CSAT

Q. Consider following statements about Indian star tortoise

  1. It’s a critically endangered terrestrial life form
  2. Lives on the East coast but migrates to rain shadow areas of Kerala for laying eggs.
  3. It’s a carnivore creature that feeds on insects and mites.

Incorrect statements are

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. All of them

Q. Correct statements about Tortoise and turtle?

  1. Turtle is usually herbivore, tortoise is usually omnivore
  2. Tortoise prefers terrestrial habitat, turtle prefers aquatic habitat
  3. Compared to turtles, the Tortoise has a very short life span.

Incorrect statements are

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. None of them

Q. In the year 2014, certain new species were in news. Which of them can be found in Maharahstra?

  1. Elephant-shrew
  2. Dancing frogs
  3. dwarf geckos

Correct pairs are

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. None of them

Q. If you’re the chief conservator of forests of Tamilnadu, which of the following will be your top priority?

  1. Stationing more guards for olive Ridley hatching site at Rushikulaya.
  2. Protection of new found species of elephant shrew.
  3. Rehabilitation of primitive tribal groups of the Nilgiris, for construction of Polavaram project
  4. None of above

Q. In 2014, a new species of dwarf gecko was found in Maharashtra. Why is it unique than the ordinary geckos?

  1. it lacks the autotomy ability
  2. it has cat-like eyes
  3. Both A and B
  4. Neither A nor B


  1. Do you know the difference between a tortoise and a turtle?
  2. Can you name any new species found in India during year 2014?