Table of Contents
ISRN Biodiversity
Volume 2013, Article ID 341687, 8 pages
Research Article

Population, Ecology, and Threats to Two Endemic and Threatened Terrestrial Chelonians of the Western Ghats, India

1Conservation Research Group (CRG), St. Albert's College, Kochi, Kerala 682 018, India
2Keystone Foundation, Kotagiri, Tamil Nadu 643 217, India
3Research and Development Centre, Bharathiar University, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu 641 046, India

Received 23 June 2013; Accepted 19 August 2013

Academic Editors: A. Chistoserdov and L. Luiselli

Copyright © 2013 Arun Kanagavel et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The Western Ghats part of the Western Ghats-Sri Lanka hotspot harbors two endemic terrestrial chelonians, the Cochin forest cane turtle Vijayachelys silvatica and the Travancore tortoise Indotestudo travancorica. Population estimates as well as information on the scale and intensity of threats for these chelonians are largely unavailable. This study attempts to address these gaps for two hill ranges of the Western Ghats. Thirty random quadrats at eight forest ranges were surveyed for chelonians and their carapaces recording any found en route and also during opportunistic surveys. Three live V. silvatica and 38 I. travancorica were subsequently encountered and had overall densities of 0.006 and 0.03 individuals per hectare, respectively. These chelonians were found at quadrats with lower light intensity and soil temperature. Nine carapaces were found during the field surveys: seven the result of human consumption, one trapped in a pit, and another consumed by a wild animal. In addition to field surveys, household surveys in 26 indigenous and nonindigenous human settlements resulted in the observation of one V. silvatica and 38 I. travancorica including a carapace. Roads were surveyed to assess the threat they posed to chelonians, resulting in the observation of two I. travancorica road kills. Increased interactions and discussions between the management authorities and local communities need to be promoted if chelonian conservation is to improve in the landscape.