Related Topics: Environment & Biodiversity, IUCN Red List
- Researchers have sighted a critically endangered species of tarantula for the first time beyond its known habitat in the Eastern Ghats.
- It was spotted by a team of researchers of the Puducherry-based Indigenous Biodiversity Foundation (IBF) in the Pakkamalai Reserve Forests near Gingee in Villupuram district.
About the Species
- The spider belongs to the genus Poecilotheria, commonly known as the Peacock Parachute Spider or Gooty Tarantula.
- Species of this genus can be identified based on the banding patterns on the underside of the legs.
- Tarantulas are biological pest controllers
- The habitat where the species occurs is completely degraded due to lopping for firewood and cutting for timber.
- The habitat is under intense pressure from the surrounding villages as well as from insurgents who use forest resources for their existence and operations.
- There is a decline in the “quality of habitat” of the spiders who seek cavities and deep crevices in old forests.
- An additional threat to the species is the collection by international pet traders, which could have an impact on the population.
- The two threats in tandem could result in the species’ extinction from the known location in the near future.
IUCN categorised it as Critically Endangered, mainly because their range is restricted to a less than 100 sq km, single location and continuing decline in habitat quality.
- The species had so far not been sighted in any other part of India or Sri Lanka except its known habitat in Andhra Pradesh.
- Thus, the sighting of species by researchers in the Pakkamalai Reserve Forests (Tamil Nadu) is significant.
- The species, known to be endemic to India, was found at different locations in the reserve forests.
- The spider was sighted way back in 1899 by Reginald Innes Pocock on the basis of a single female specimen in Gooty.
- About 102 years later (in 2001), this species has been recorded at degraded forest between Nandyal and Giddalur in the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh.
[Sources: The Hindu, IUCN]