Today the much-awaited, frequently discussed, debated, scrutinized, cursed Indian monsoon finally arrived filling Mumbai office-goers with much consternation for this would be the day most left their umbrellas back home. Amidst the squelching sandals, honking autowallahs, screeching cars, cursing pedestrians, shrieking hawkers, laughing children, roaring waves, dripping roofs, creaking branches, amistd the general pandemonium that accompanies the pattering rain, there was one sound that was conspicuous by its absence. The silence of the frogs was deafening, though not nearly loud enough to penetrate the ill-informed, myopic, GDP-obsessed ignorasmuses of the human race.
The easiest frog to spot during the monsoon is the bright yellow, morbidly obese Indian Bullfrog (Hoplobatrachus tigerinus). Hoplo= Having powerful members/heavily armed, batrachus= Frog. Unfortunately, I could not figure out what powerful member frogs of this genus possess. The species name tigerinus probably derives from the carnivorous feeding habits of the tadpole. An adult Indian bullfrog is quite a Godzilla, feeding on worms, mice, young frogs, small birds and even juvenile snakes! Its loud 'cronk cronk cronk' calls herald the rainy season in western India, and the tiny intermittent marshes in Mumbai soon transform into fields of steroid-injected lemons with occasional flashes of brilliant blueberries against the peppermint green grass.
Incidentally, these 'Jumping Chickens' are widely harvested for frog legs, which are considered a delicacy in many parts of the world. There goes a story about how frog legs were exported in huge numbers throughout the Konkan. The following year, pests wreaked havoc in paddy fields and the farmers had to incur substantial losses. Recognizing its potential as a natural pest controller, the Indian government has accorded the status of a Schedule I species to the Indian bullfrog. In simpler terms, offenders trading in frog meat face upto 3 years in imprisonment or a fine of Rs. 25,000 or both. In a rapidly expanding metropolis like Mumbai, the primary threat to these giants remains rampant habitat destruction. The increased usage of chemical pesticides in agriculture may also contribute to reduced populations in rural India.
P.S: Enjoy the orchestra at a Borneo pond that got voted the 'Most Beautiful Sound in the World'
Ramblings on wildlife sharing spaces with non-wild humans