Faunal Wealth

 

of

 

Andaman & Nicobar Islands

 

 

Designed and published by

SCIENCE CENTRE

Goodwill Estate, Corbyn’s Cove Road,

Port Blair

                                                                                         

Cassis cornuta 

(Helmet Shell or King Shell)  

The Helmet Shells are solid with large body whorls and short spires, usually with blunt knobs. The animals live in sandy areas in the tropics and temperate zone, in shallow and deep water. They prey on sea urchins and other echinoids. The males tend to be smaller than the females with a slightly less expanded shield.

 

 

Charonia tritonis

(Triton’s trumpets)

It is one of the world’s larger gastropods (the name implies that an animal of this class crawls on its stomach). They live in sandy and rocky areas in deep and shallow waters in the tropics worldwide. They are carnivorous, living on echinoderms and mollusks. They have a long free swimming stage, after they are hatched and before developing into the final form.

 

 

Nautilus pompilius

 

Nautilus is the sole survivor of an extensive group of varied forms, which have become extinct. It has a calcareous chambered shell. The chambers are in a series of plane spiral. As the animal grows, fresh chambers are secreted and the old ones are separated by partitions. The soft body having numerous slender tentacles in places of arms occupies the outermost chamber in the spiral.

 

 

Birgus latro

(Robber Crab)

 

It is the world’s largest land crab and is found in plenty in South Sentinel and Great Nicobar Island. There is a popular belief that this crab can easily pluck the coconut from the tree, peel off the husk and break open its shell.

 

 

 

 

 

                              Phelsuma andamanensis 

                            (Andaman Islands day gecko)

It is native to the Andaman Islands. They are diurnal (active during the day) and they have a clear plate covering their eyes and do not have eyelids. Day geckos are capable of climbing up glasswalls and across ceilings, making them great escape artist. In the wild day geckos feed on invertebrates, nectar and pollen.

 

Laticauda laticauda

(Andaman blind sea snake - an Amphibious sea Snake)

 

The Amphibious Sea Snake, like other Sea Kraits, spends its time mainly at sea in shallow tropical reefs and it frequently comes ashore to lay their eggs on land. The attractive silver and black banding covers the entire body from the neck area to the tip of the tail. The tail is laterally compressed and rudder-like, making the snake an efficient underwater swimmer. They are venomous which are ten times as strong as rattlesnake venom. The venom is composed of powerful neurotoxins (affect nervous system).

 

Lepidochelys olivacae

 (Olive ridley turtle)

 

This is a small marine turtle measuring less than 1.0 metre in length and weighing upto 60kg. The head is large and triangular. Carapace is olive-grey in colour. The turtle occurs in coastal waters as well as in open sea. Although the species is widely distributed in tropical seas around the world, due to excessive killing of adult and collection of eggs, it is being rarely encountered in these islands.

 

Macaca fascicularis umbrosa

(Crab eating Monkey)

 

This is the only species of monkey native to these islands and confined to thick forest of the Nicobars. Its body is dark brown in colour. The tail is long and used to hang from branches with great ease. It is quite active during the day. The monkey feeds on fruits and nuts, but at times of scarcity of food, it is forced to feed on crabs of the shore. The species is gregarious in habit and moves in herds.

 

Dugong 

 

Popularly known as sea cow, the dugong once enjoyed a wide distribution in the Indo-pacific region. It is a seal-like marine mammal, bluish-grey in colour and grows to a length of 2.3 m. It is sluggish and herbivorous, feeding on marine grasses and algae. The cow gives birth to only one calf at a time. It was largely hunted for its delicious meat, fat, oil and skin. With the result, its population has completely disappeared from many places, making it the most threatened marine mammal in the Indian Ocean. It is rarely encountered in a few pockets in these islands. The dugong is now decidedly a diminishing species deserving prompt protection.

 

Passer domesticus (Linnaeus)

(House Sparrow)

It is undoubtedly our most familiar bird, which was introduced at Ross Island during the second half of the 19th century. Male with grey crown, black lores and around eye. Female ashy grey-brown above streaked with blackish and rufous. Omnivorous, eats grains, insects fruit buds, flower nectar and kitchen scraps.  

 

 

Rhyticeros norcondami

(Narcondom hornbill)

 

This is a medium-sized, black- bodied and white-tailed resident bird, endemic to the volcanic Narcondom Island. It is quite noisy and fearless of man. The bird moves in small groups and perches on tall trees. It feeds on wild figs of the jungle. Because of its restricted distribution to this tiny island, its present status is considered as quite vulnerable. It is no doubt a rare bird requiring effective protection.

 

Megapodius freycinet

(Megapode)

 

This is a fowl like bird confined to the dense forests along seashores of Nicobar Islands. It is dull in colour, with long legs and toes. Both the sexes are alike. The megapode is omnivorous, feeding on insects, worms, snails, seeds, tubers etc. The bird incubates its eggs in a huge earthen mound of vegetable matter. The decomposing leaves of the mound release the heat necessary for the incubation of eggs. As this bird is not a good flier, it is easily caught and killed. Over-exploitation for flesh and eggs has reduced the species to an  endangered position. Needs effective protection and conservation.  

 

Acridotheres tristis (Linnaeus) 

Indian Myna

It was introduced by Col. Tytler at Ross Island in 1867.It is very common and abundant through out South Andaman in cultivations and in the neighborhood of homesteads, villages and town. A confirmed associate of man, following wherever he opens up new habitations. Omnivorous. Eats fruits, insects, kitchen scraps. Follows the plough for earthworms, etc., and attends on grazing cattle for the grasshoppers.   

 

 

Francolinus  pondicerianus (Gmelin) 

(Grey Partridge)

 

This bird was introduced in Port Blair in 1890. It is popularly known as ‘Safed Teetar’. A plump, stub-tailed grayish brown game bird with chestnut blotching above and fine wavy black and buff vermiculations, and chestnut tail. Throat rufous-buff circumscribed by a broken blackish line. Sexes alike. Avoids heavy forest and humid tracts.

 

Designed and published by

SCIENCE CENTRE

Goodwill Estate,

Corbyn’s Cove Road,

Port Blair

 

 

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