Mahabali Frog – may be Kerala’s official amphibian

Mahabali Frog likely to be declared Kerala's amphibian

The purple frog, one of the rarest frog species endemic to the Western Ghats, would soon be declared as Kerala’s official amphibian. A proposal for declaring the purple frog, also known as pignose frog, as state’s amphibian, is in the active consideration of the state government. The move to declare it as the state’s amphibian as it was mostly endemic to Kerala region of Western Ghats. According to Delhi University professor S D Biju, who discovered the frog a few years ago in the Idukki district, said it is not only a rare frog species but is also one of the unique amphibians. The purple frog, which remains underground most of the year, is found mostly in the Kerala’s Western Ghats. The frog was found in one forest area of Tamil Nadu also. The purple frog, scientifically called “Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis” is listed as endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as its “Extent of Occurrence is less than 5,000 km, all individuals are in fewer than five locations, and there is continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat in the Cardamom Hills. According to WWF, the leading organisation in wildlife conservation and endangered species, purple frog has been acknowledged by bio-geographers all over the world as one of the rarest kinds and a “once in a century find.” It said the purple frog has a bloated body with short stout limbs and is dark purple to greyish in colour. Reaching to about 7 centimetres, it has a small head in comparison to the body length, and an unusually pointed snout. Its short and muscular forelimbs with hard palms help it to burrow underground. Unlike other frogs, it has very short hind legs, which does not allow it to leap from one spot to another. As a result, it covers any distance with long strides. It depends more on its sense of smell to hunt out soil termites underground. The name emerged as “Mahabali frog” as it emerges from under the ground for only one day, like Keralas mythological King Mahabali who was banished to the underworld and given permission to meet his subjects in Kerala during Thiruvonam day of Malayalam month of Chingam. The proposal for declaring the purple frog as the state amphibian was submitted to the forest department by Sandeep Das, who does research on frogs at the Kerala Forest Research Institute.