A species of wood snake that nobody has seen in the last 140 years has reappeared in the Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary in India. Scientists conducted a survey that lasted two years (from 2014-2016) and that’s when they rediscovered the wood snake species which is called Xylophis indicus. The snake is a “point endemic” meaning that it’s only found in Meghamalai. The female snake that they discovered was 235 millimeters long (just over 9 inches) and was dark brown in color.
This species of wood snake was last seen and recorded in 1878 by a British military officer and naturalist named Colonel Richard Henry Beddome. The specimens he gathered were brought to the Natural History Museum in London and they were labelled as coming from “the dense heavy evergreen forests on the mountains at the south of the Cumbum valley, Madura.”
The rediscovery of the snake is very exciting and the area where it was found definitely needs to stay protected. C.R. Rajkumar, who is the Honorary Wildlife Warden at Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary, said, “Meghamalai has a range of snakes, butterflies and ants, apart from the large mammals that we know of. Establishing a tiger reserve here will ensure that there is proper protection of this landscape.”
In other news, there’s new hope for an Australia bird that’s on the brink of extinction. One of Australia’s most endangered birds, the King Island brown thornbill, has been discovered in a forest in Tasmania which isn’t where they were previously known to live.
Researchers who were conducting surveys on the island discovered the small bird in a part of the forest which is located on private land that’s several kilometers away from where they were known to live in Pegarah state forest. This is definitely positive news since last year it was ranked as the Australian bird to most likely end up extinct in the next 20 years if nothing was done to protect it.
Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU), BirdLife Australia, the Tasmanian government, and the Cradle Coast natural resource management, had been doing surveys on the island for the thornbill, as well as the King Island scrubtit which is another endangered bird with less than 50 of them believed to be living in the wild. The team got audio recordings and pictures of these birds.
What’s even more incredible is that they found thornbills at over 20 sites and scrubtits at more than 60 sites. But the areas where they have been found need to be protected. Matt Webb, who is the lead researcher as well as a conservation scientist at the ANU, said, “Even the loss of small areas, a hectare here or a hectare there, can be devastating for them.”
Anna Wind, who is the coastal coordinator for Cradle Coast natural resource management, described the findings as a “breakthrough.” She also said, “The number of sites where the species were detected has given cause for hope that populations of both species are larger than previously thought.”