AN ANNOTATED CHECKLIST OF THE AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES OF BUKIT PANCHOR STATE PARK, PENANG

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1 20 AN ANNOTATED CHECKLIST OF THE AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES OF BUKIT PANCHOR STATE PARK, PENANG Ibrahim Jaafar', Shahriza Shahrudin^ Ismail Ishaq Ibrahim^ & Amirudin Ahmad'' 'School of Distance Education ^School of Pharmaceutical Sciences Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800, Penang. ^School of Mechatronic Engineering Universiti Malaysia Perils, 10000, Kangar, Perils ''Department of Biological Sciences University Malaysia Terengganu, 21030, Kuala Terengganu, Terengganur Abstract : A rapid assessment survey of the amphibians and reptiles of Bukit Panchor Forest Reserve, Penang was carried out during the Bukit Panchor Scientific Expedition around August Frogs and toads were either collected by hand at night along trials and small streams in the forest reserve, or by electro-shocking in Sungai Buaya near base camp. Snakes, lizards and turtles were collected during chance encounters along forest trails. A total of 20 amphibian species from 5 families and 13 reptilian species from 8 families were discovered and identified. This list is the first record of amphibians and reptiles from the forest reserve. The number of frogs and toads is comparable to other studies in the state, but quite impressive for a small forest area. However the number of reptiles is lower than expected. This is mainly due to the short survey period and also to the secretive and elusive habits of these animals. We expect that the forest reserve contains more amphibian and reptilian species because it is the only regenerated forest habitat in the vicinity of southern Penang; all other areas have succumbed to the pressures of agriculture and development. INTRODUCTION It is a well known fact that the tropical forests of Malaysia harbors a large variety of herpetofauna comprising frogs, toads, snakes, lizards and turtles. On record Peninsular Malaysia has about 100 amphibian species (Norhayati et al., 2005) and about

2 reptilian species (Ibrahim, et al., 2008). Amphibians and reptiles can be found all over our Malaysian landscape, from the shallow seas and beaches, to lowland areas such as paddy fields, agriculture lands, villages, towns and cities, up along foothills and to the top of our mountain ranges. They inhabit all types of microhabitat including the subsoil, forest floors, understorey and canopy layers of our tropical rainforest. They play important ecological roles in our ecosystem, being intermediate consumers at the mid-level of the food web. They are also important elements of the habitat and are confirmed biological control animals as well as biological indicators of environmental health. Populations of amphibians and reptiles are declining due to among others, habitat degradation, pollution, deforestation and diseases (Doherty-Bone, 2008; Blaustein & Wake, 1990; Duellman & Trueb, 1985). Kiew (1984) and Ibrahim et al., (2006) reported that forest frog species are threatened by logging and development and are thus vulnerable to extinction. This is especially so since of late, a tremendous increase of deforestation has been noticed to occur in Peninsula Malaysia. Hence it is vital that we undertake basic studies on amphibian and reptile numbers and populations before the force of progress and development push these creatures into oblivion. Other than inventories, checklists and surveys, very little information is available on the herpetofauna of Malaysia, but we do need to do this kind of studies first before we can shift to other aspects of their ecology. Therefore this paper reports on the inventory of the amphibians and reptiles found in the Bukit Panchor Forest Reserve during the short JPSM-UKM expedition in the area in August MATERIALS AND METHODS Study Site Bukit Panchor State Park (5o 9.631' N, looo ' E) was officially declared a state park by the Penang State Goverment on 9th August The park has a relatively small area of 445 hectares with Bukit Panchor (the hill) as the highest point at 416 meters. Towards the south of the park headquarters there is a small reservoir managed by the Penang Water Authority and the park is practically bordered by settlements and agriculture lands all round. The forest reserve has a history of being a demonstration forest in the 1940's and in the late 1960's, it was allowed to regenerate. So basically this is a 40 year old regenerated forest. As is, it is the only stand of forest that can be considered a refugia for various forms of wildlife in southern Penang. Even for a small-sized fragmented forest, this park contains a variety of interesting wild flora and fauna. Among the trees present include : Shorea paviflora (Meranti Sarang Punai), S. leprosula (Meranti Tembaga), Koompasia malaccensis (Kempas), Dryobalanops oblonglfolia (Keladan), D. aromatica (Kapur) and Alstonia angustiloba (Pulai) (Siti Syaliza, 2000) and Archidendron jiringi (Jering), Dalalium sp. (Keranji), Palaquim sp. (Nyatoh), Parkia speciosa (Petai), and Endospermum malaccensis (Sesenduk) while the understory is dominated by Eugeisonia trist (Bertam) (Adleen, 2000), just to name a few. The fauna includes numerous species of birds and a few species of small mammals such as bats,the 204

3 Flying Lemur (Cynocephalus variegatus), squirrels, rats, leaf monkeys and last but not least the Wild Pig {Sus scrofa). There were reports from villagers and forestry rangers alike on the presence of larger carnivores, but to date this has not been verified. SURVEY AND CAPTURE METHODS Amphibians and reptiles were searched for in various habitats of the forest reserve. Forages were made along the old logging track (now tarred over), the headwaters of Sg. Buaya, The Empangan Trail, the Wetland Trail and the grounds of base camp. Frogs and toads were primarily collected by hand-grabbing while reptiles were captured during chance encounters. In addition, electro-shocking was employed in the small stream, Sg. Buaya and this yielded some frogs, tadpoles and a water snake. Amphibians were identified according to Berry (1975), Inger and Stuebing (1997), Norhayati et al. (2005) and Ibrahim et al., (2008). For reptiles, identifications were based on Chan-Ard et al., (1999), Cox et al., (1998) and Ibrahim et al., (2008). Some voucher specimens were deposited in the Amphibian Collection of Universiti Sains Malaysia. An estimated total effort of 24 mandays were utilized for the survey. RESULTS Twenty species of Anura from 5 families were found during the survey. Twelve species of Ranidae were present, followed by 3 species from Bufonidae, 2 species each from Microhylidae and Rhacophoridae and one species representing Megophryidae. The reptiles were represented by 13 species from 8 families comprising one species from Pythonidae, 2 species from Colubridae, 2 species from Viperidae, 4 species from Gekkonidae and one species each from the families Agamidae, Varanidae, Scincidae and Bataguridae. SPECIES ACCOUNT AMPHIBIANS Megophryidae Only one species from this family was collected, namely Leptobrachium hendricksoni Leptobrachium hendricksoni Two Gosner stage 46 tadpoles were electro-shocked from Sg. Buaya near base camp and several more tadpoles in various stages of development were found along the Wetland Trail. Bufonidae The toads were represented by three species from 3 genera : Duttaphrynus melanostictus, Ingerophrynus parvus and Phrynoidis aspera. Duttaphrynus melanostictus One adult was found on the grounds of the base camp. Ingerophrynus parvus Two adults specimens were found along the Wetland Trail near Sg. Buaya. 205

4 Phryniodis aspera One adult was collected from Sg. Buaya. Microhylidae Two species from this family were found in the reserve. They were Microhyla butleri and M. heymonsi. Microhyla butleri A number of adults were heard calling in the small swamp near the Wetland Trail and around base camp. Microhyla heymonsi The calls of a few adults were heard in the swamp near the Wetland Trail. Ranidae Twelve species from 4 genera represented this family. Members of this family can be found all over the forest reserve. Fejervarya cancrivora A subadult was collected from the Empangan Trail. Fejervarya limnocharis Two adults were collected from Sg. Buaya while another adult was picked up around base camp. Hylarana erythraea Three adults were collected from the small swamp near Sg. Buaya while two more were collected by electro-shocking in Sg. Buaya. Hylarana glandulosa A couple of individuals were heard calling in the small swamp near the Wetland Trail and two more were also heard calling in the marshy grounds near the dam. Hylarana laterimaculata An adult was seen in the swamp near the Wetland Trail, but escaped before it could be caught. Hylarana labialis Five adults were found at the small swamp near the Wetland Trail and another 12 were counted near the headwaters of Sg. Buaya. Hylarana nicobariensis Two adults were found near the headwaters of Sg. Buaya. Limnonectes blythi An adult specimen was collected from the small swamp near the Wetland Trail. Limnonectes kuhli An adult was collected from the headwaters of Sg. Buaya. Limnonectes laticeps Three adults were found near the headwaters of Sg. Buaya. Limnonectes malesianus 206

5 An adult was found in the small swamp near the Wetland Trail.. Occidozyga laevis An adult was collected from the headwaters of Sg. Buaya. Rhacophoridae This family was represented by two species from two genera namely Nyctixalus pictus and Polypedates luecomystax Nyctixalus pictus An adult was collected from the small swamp near the Wetland Trail.. Polypedatus luecomystax. An adult was heard calling near Sg. Buaya and another was also heard calling near the Empangan Trail. REPTILES Pythonidae Only one species for this family was collected, that is. Python reticulatus, which is quite commonly found in forests and settlement areas. Python reticulatus A small juvenile measuring 1.1m was caught at the water's edge along the Empangan Trail. Colubridae This family makes up the largest group of land snakes. However in Bukit Panchor Forest Reserve only 2 species were observed, namely Homalopsis buccata and Ahaetulla prasina. Homalopsis buccata An adult measuring 1.4 m was electro-shocked from Sg. Buaya near base camp. Ahaetulla prasina An individual was observed on a tree branch along the Empangan trail. Viperidae Members of this family have distinctive triangular heads and are venomous. They have moveable front fangs useable in delivering heamotoxic venom. This family was also represented by 2 species, Cryptelytrops purpureomaculatus and Tropidoleamus wagleri. Cryptelytrops purpureomaculatus An adult was seen at the small swamp near the Wetland Trail and 2 juveniles were captured and released by other members of the expedition. Tropidoleamus wagleri A large adult was seen resting on branches of a small bush on the old logging trail. Gekkonidae Geckos are distributed worldwide and can be found in most habitats of the world. Some are commensal of man. Four species are found in the park. Cosymbotus platyurus 207

6 A few individuals were observed on the ceilings and walls of the wooden buildings at base camp. Cyrtodactylus quadrivirgatus An adult was seen scurrying for cover under some vegetation at the small swamp near the Wetland Trail. Gecko sp. An juvenile specimen was captured on a tree trunk near the logging trail, but it escaped before positive identification can be made. Hemidactylus frenatus A few adults were seen preying on insects on the ceiling of the canteen at park headquarters. Agamidae Even though this forest is ideal for members of this lizard family, only one species was seen during the expedition. Calotes versicolor One adult was seen running for cover behind a tree trunk at base camp. Varanidae One species from this family was observed. Varanus salvator A subadult was seen crossing the road leading to park headquarters. Scincidae Only one species from this family was seen in the park. Eutropis multifasciatus An adult was seen near the banks of Sg. Buaya. Bataguridae One species of land turtle was observed in the forest. Heosemys spinosa One adult was captured and inspected at the end of the logging trail near the headwaters of Sg. Buaya, and later released at the site. DISCUSSIONS This survey resulted in 20 species of amphibians and 13 species of reptiles, which are considered as new records for the locality. It is amazing that a small forested corner in southern Penang with a total area of only 445 hectares contains almost as many species of amphibians as the island of Penang (26 species; Ibrahim et al., 2008), Ulu Endau (24 species; Kiew, 1987) and Tasik Bera Bamsar Site (19 species; Norsham et al., 2000b). This proves that the forested habitat of Bukit Panchor State Park is an important refuge for this group of vertebrates, and hence all the more important that this area should remain 208

7 as it is and do not succumb to deforestation. With a variety of 20 frogs and toads, we can be assured that the park is in a good state of health, considering that some of the frog species present are only able to live and breed in clean waters and forest environment. The number of reptile species found here is somewhat lower than expected. The main reason being that reptiles are very secretive and usually shy away from people. Snakes and lizards will seek refuge when disturbed or when they sense a potential threat looming. However our haul of 13 reptilian species is somewhat comparable to the study by Norsham et al., (2000a) who found 17 species of reptiles in the northern part of Belum Forest Reserve, Perak. Since this forest area is surrounded by villages and agriculture lands, it is an important core area for reptiles and amphibians (or other wildlife for that matter) to seek sanctuary and to breed and reproduce. During lean times these animals are able to range out of the park and forage for food and prey in the agricultural lands such as fruit orchards, rubber and oil palm plantations surrounding the park. Presumably more herpetofauna species are present in Bukit Panchor Forest Reserve and more long term work is needed to canvas the exact number of amphibian and reptilian species here. Due to the lack of manpower and time constrain the real number of species may not be exactly known until much later. As a first step in conservation planning, checklists' data are important so that the authorities are aware of the diversity and variety of wildlife present in the area. This will help in better conservation and management of the ecosystem. Kudos to the state government for declaring this area as a state park, hence preserving the habitat for the amphibians and reptiles to live in peace for posterity. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The authors wish to acknowledge and thank the expedition organizing committees, namely the Forestry Department Peninsula Malaysia, Penang State Forestry Department and University Kebangsaan Malaysia for their kind invitation to the expedition. We also wish to express our heartfelt gratitude to: Universiti Sains Malaysia for provision of a short term grant No 304/PJJAUH/ to the first author and also laboratory facilities and other amenities; and to En Ahmad Bukhary and En. Chiommber Tian and the teachers and students of St George's Girl School for their company during one of the frogging trips. REFERENCES Adleen, S.A.P. (2000). Kajian Kepelbagaian Avifauna di Hutan Simpan Bukit Panchor Tesis Tahun Akhir, Universiti Sains Malaysia. (Unpublished). Berry, P.Y. (1975). The Amphibian Fauna of Peninsula Malaysia. Tropical Press, Kuala Lumpur. Blaustein, A.R. & D.B.. Wake (1990). Declining Amphibian Populations : A Global Phenomena?TrenJi in Ecology and Evolution 5 : Chan-Ard, T.,Grossman, W. Grumpecht, A. & Schultz, K. (1999). Amphibians and Reptiles 209

8 of Peninsular Malaysia and Thailand. Bushmaster Publications, Wuerselen.240pp. Cox, M.J., van Dijk, P.P., Nabhitabhata, J. & Thirakupt, K. (1998). A Photographic Guide to the Snakes and Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand New Holland Pub.(UK) Ltd, London 144 pp. Doherty-Bone, T. M. (2008) In a vulnerable position? Preliminary survey work fails to detect the amphibian chytrid pathogen in the highlands of Cameroon, an amphibian hotspot. Herpetol. J: 18; Duellman, W.E. & L. Trueb, (1985). Biology of Amphibians. McGraw-Hill Co., New York Ibrahim, J., Shahrul, A.M.S., Norhayati, A., Shukor, M.N., Shahriza, S., Nurul Ain,E., Nor Zalipah, M. & Mark Rayan, D. (2006). An Annotated Checklist of Herpetofauna of Langkawi Island, Kedah, Malaysia. Malayan Nature Journal 57 (4) : Ibrahim, J., Shahrul, A.M.S., Norhayati, A., Chan, K.O. & Muin, M.A.A. (2008). The Common Amphibians and Reptiles of Penang Island. Penang State Forestry Department, Penang.Inger, R.F. & Stuebing, R.B. (1997). A Field Guide to the Frogs of Borneo. Natural History Publications, Kota Kinabalu. Kiew, B.H. (1984). Conservation Status of Malaysian Amphibians. Malaysian Naturalist 37: Kiew, B.H. (1987). An annotated checklist of the herpetofauna of Ulu Endau, Johore, Malaysia. Malayan Nature Journal 41 : Norhayati, A., Juliana, S. & Lim, B.L. (2005). Amphibians of Ulu Muda Forest Reserve, Kedah. Forestry Department Peninsular Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. Norsham, Y, Bernard, H., Chew, K.L., Yong, H.S., Yap, M.N.& Lim, B.L. (2000a). An annotated checklist of herpetofauna in the northern part of Belum Forest Reserve, Perak, Peninsular Malaysia. Malayan Nature Journal 54 (3) : Norsham, Y, Lopez, A., Prentice, R.C. & Lim, B.L. (2000b). A survey of the herpetofauna in the Tasik Bera Ramsar Site. Malayan Nature Journal 54(1): Siti Syaliza, M. (2000). Kajian Inventori mamalia di Hutan Simpan Bukit Panchor, Seberang Perai. Tesis Tahun Akhir, Universiti Sains Malaysia. (Unpublished). 210

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