|Sensing our presence - Malabar Pit Viper|
Here I share my experience going after a very rare, venomous Snake known as the ‘Malabar Pit Viper.’ These are nocturnal snakes & mostly active in the night and is spotted only during monsoons. I had two choices to make for high probability of spotting these snakes, one at Agumbe and other at Amboli. At Agumbe accommodation is available only at Agumbe Rainforest Research Station and one needs to book it well in advance, Unfortunately I didn’t make any bookings, so I had no option but to travel to Amboli.
|Way to Heaven|
We had made are our stay arrangements at Whistling Woods, a small homestay run by Hemant Ogale, Owner cum Naturalist/Guide and a photographer too. The accommodation was quite comfortable and the food was awesome. We ordered Non-Veg Malavani Thali, a simple meal but very delicious that consists of Sol Kadi a special konkan appetizer made of Kokam and Cocount milk and excellent for digestion, it also acts as strong antacid agent, Chapatis, Chicken Curry and Steam Rice. In addition we had ordered Fried Fish, a konkan style fry can't get any better.
|Owl Eyed Moth|
Our forest trail was on foot in search of these rare species, the trail began at 9:30pm and was expected to end at 2am. With dense mist around the visibility was down to less than 5 feet. I knew one wrong step during the forest trail could lead to fatal bite by one of these snakes of Western Ghats, so I was prepared with protective foot wear, in addition a powerful torch, rain gear for my camera equipment’s and most importantly a high intensity external Flash light for my Camera. The area is highly populated with Leeches so I had to be mentally prepared to lose a minimum 100ml of blood too. However I had applied Eucalyptus oil on my feet, it is believed that it works as a repellant to insects and leeches too.
|Green Vine Snake|
|In a mood to strike - Malabar Pit Viper|
There was another drama to this, due to excitement I moved in so close that I had to almost get in to the bushes and believe me my friend screamed that there is another snake right on top of my head. I stayed unmoved, in the meantime Hemant our Naturalist whispered that it is a Cat Snake and non-venomous, he requested us not to panic. I have some image of the Cat Snake but not that great as I couldn’t get him in the right focus.
|The Bull Frog|
|Fresh Eggs laid by Wrinkled Frog|
We walked back from the water stream and continued our amazing forest trail in the wilderness, I was happy to learn about the Amphibians and was eager to come here again so I asked Hemant what is the best time to visit, he replied that end of June or 1st week July is ideal season for studying and spotting these rare species.
We walked further and spotted another rare species of a snake known as
the Bamboo Pit Viper. I was so happy
to see such beautiful species that too in pitch darkness, of course
photographing them was a real challenge. I managed few decent shots of
Bamboo Pit Viper and our luck continued as we spotted plenty of Green
Vine Snakes, Cat Snakes and finally we again got
a Malabar Pit Viper in the open.
|Waiting for his prey - Bamboo Pit Viper|
|Triangle Head - Malabar Pit Viper|
|Deccan Banded Gecko|
|Malabar Pit Viper|
|Malabar Gliding or Flying Frog|
Disclaimer – If you wish to do such trails request that you take precautionary measures as advised by a qualified guide/naturalist, it is just not about venomous snakes but we have records of some frogs being highly poisonous too. Please do not venture into the forest on your own.