Agumbe in monsoons is addictive! Many people I know are still unable to comprehend why I was in a place which gets the most rainfall in South India, that too at the height of the monsoons. It’s a joy that can only be experienced...
Along with a group of photographer-naturalists, I spent an extended weekend at Agumbe last week. Our base was the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station (ARRS). ARRS was founded by Romulus Whitaker to study the rainforest ecology. Their flagship project is the King Cobra project. These elusive giants are among the least studied animals in the world.
Our trip started off with a rather adventurous twist. For those not following the news, Karnataka’s coast has been battered by the monsoons. Most of the ponds and lakes are overflowing and the roads were flooded at multiple places. As our bus from Bangalore navigated through tyre-deep water (where cars and vans were stuck), we ran into electricity wires that were hanging low! A few tense moments and we realized that the place (luckily for us) had no power. The bus conductor, rather foolhardily than bravely, pushed the wires with a plastic bag and we took a deep breath again.
Monsoon is the best time to be in Agumbe. That’s when the forest comes alive. Streams turn into rivulets. Waterfalls abound. Raindrops fall on your head :). The fog turns it into a dream. Although most animals and birds are hard to spot in this weather, frogs, crabs and snakes appeared to be having a gala time.
The following is a list of frogs and snakes seen on the trip.
1. Rhacophorus Malabaricus (Malabar flying frog)
2. Duttaphrynus melanosticus (Common Indian Toad)
3. Sylvirana Temporalis (Bronzed Frog)
4. Philautus Neelanethrus (Blue-eyed Bush Frog)
5. Philautus Ponmudi (Ponmudi Bush-frog)
6. Philautus Wynaadensis (White-nosed Bush-frog)
7. Euphlyctis Cyanophlyctis (Common Skittering Frog)
1. Spectacled Cobra (Naja naja)
2. Hill Keelback (Amphiesma monticola)
3. Green vine snake (Ahaetulla nasuta)
4. Malabar rock pit viper (Trimeresurus malabaricus)
The thing with most of us city-breds is that rains automatically trigger an instinct to get indoors. I “suffered” with this for the first couple of days of my trip. I would get up to the sound of rain and would feel so thankful that I was indoors. Then, better sense would prevail on the purpose of my trip. I would slowly get myself into a raincoat, with my camera hanging on my side, and be off into the rains.
Leeches were a particularly interesting part of the trip. These slimy heat-sensing creatures come out of a long sleep at the onset of the monsoons and suck blood out of everything that moves. And they are everywhere. I was, admittedly, very scared of them for the first two days. I wouldn’t go out without leech socks and would scream when I found one of them on me. Then I saw a long stream of blood on my leg (from a leech that had had its fill and fallen off). And, leeches became a part of life.
I must thank ARRS for the fantastic experience. They helped us get around the rainforest and see the bio-diversity. They educated us on so many aspects, including how they track the King. The stay was homely and I still miss the simple food. Thank you guys!