Friday, August 26, 2022

Wangyal's Torrent Frog, Amolops wangyali - Species New to Science

[Herpetology 2022] A Review of Torrent frogs (Amolops: Ranidae) from Bhutan, the Description of a New Species, and Reassessment of the Taxonomic Validity of some A. viridimaculatus Group Species aided by Archival DNA Sequences of Century-old Type Specimens.

Stephen Mahony, Tshering Nidup, Jeffrey W. Streicher, Emma C. Teeling and Rachunliu G. Kamei

In: The Herpetological Journal. 32(3); 142-175. DOI: 10.33256/32.3.142175

                                                                                Amolops wangyali species novel
Seven species of the Asian torrent frogs (genus Amolops) have previously been reported from the eastern Himalayan country of Bhutan. Species identifications from the region have been largely Seven species of the Asian torrent frogs (genus Amolops) have previously been reported from the eastern Himalayan country of Bhutan. Species identifications from the region have been largely based on photographed animals with few voucher specimens available and no molecular sampling. Understanding the taxonomic status of Bhutan’s torrent frogs has also been hampered by the poorly understood distributional limits of species from surrounding regions. Herein we utilised molecular phylogenetic and morphological data for vouchered specimens from Bhutan and provide a complete literature review of all Amolops populations reported from the country. Phylogenetic relationships were estimated by combining available sequence data (from GenBank) with newly generated sequences from recently collected Bhutanese Amolops populations. We also obtained archival DNA sequences from the type specimens of Amolops formosus, A. himalayanus, and A. kaulbacki, collected between 82 and 151 years ago. Our comparative analyses revealed a large, new (to science) species of the Amolops viridimaculatus group from eastern Bhutan. Morphological examinations of related taxa revealed that A. senchalensis from India is not a synonym of A. marmoratus. Molecular phylogenetic results supplemented by morphological data unambiguously demonstrate i) that A. himalayanus is present in eastern Nepal, ii) the presence of a previously undocumented population of A. nepalicus in eastern Nepal, iii) a 200 km range extention for A. kaulbacki into Yunnan, China, iv) that A. gyirongensis should be considered a junior subjective synonym of A. formosus, and v) that A. splendissimus from Vietnam should be considered a junior subjective synonym of A. viridimaculatus. Based on our results, we expand the Amolops viridimaculatus group to include nine species, including A. formosus, A. himalayanus, A. kaulbacki, and the new species described herein. We provisionally include a further three species in the viridimaculatus group based on morphology, A. longimanus, A. nidorbellus, and A. senchalensis. Combining our data with the literature review allowed us to identify several unidentified Amolops species from recent phylogenetic studies and remove nine frog species (including Hyla, Sylvirana, and seven Amolops species) from Bhutan’s amphibian checklist. We recognise four species of Amolops in Bhutan, three of which cannot be confidently identified to the species level based on currently available data.

Keywords: Anura, taxonomy, Himalayas, conservation, vouchered-specimens

Amolops wangyali sp. nov.

 adult male holotype (SCZM 2019.07.18.1) in life (A & B: images taken ex-situ) and immediately after euthanisation, prior to fixation (C–G): A. dorsolateral view; B. lateral view of head, red arrow shows the shoulder gland; C. dorsolateral view; D. ventral view; E. posterior view of thighs; F. palmar view of left hand; G. plantar view of left foot. Scale bars represent 10 mm.

Amolops wangyali sp. nov.

 adult male holotype (SCZM 2019.07.18.1) in life (images taken ex-situ) adult female paratype (SCZM 2019.07.18.2) in life (A & B) 

Amolops wangyali sp. nov.

juveniles in life (A–D) showing ontogenetic variation in colouration and markings: A & B. dorsolateral and profile views of a nearly metamorphosed juvenile (SCZM 2019.07.18.3), from the type locality, images taken ex-situ; C. dorsolateral view of larger juvenile (SCZM 2019.07.20.1), from Rongthong (27.2808, 91.53937, ca. 1,520 m a.s.l.), Trashigang District, Bhutan, image taken ex-situ; D. dorsal view of uncollected halfgrown juvenile, from Jere Chhu/Stream, Khaling Town, Bhutan, image taken in-situ; E. habitat at the type locality, Bodidrang Chhu/ Stream, taken from the Singye Thegchog Bridge two days after the collection of the holotype (20 July 2019); F. adult female paratype (SCZM 2019.08.02.1) from Bodidrang Chhu/Stream, image taken immediately after euthanisation, prior to fixation. Scale bar represents 10 mm.


The specific epithet is a patronym, named in recognition of Mr. Jigme Tshelthrim Wangyal, a Forest Officer with the Department of Forest and Park Services, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Government of Bhutan. Jigme is an accomplished Bhutanese herpetologist and has published many papers on the subject (Wangyal, 2011, 2013, 2014; Wangyal & Gurung, 2012, 2017; Wangyal & Das, 2014; Wangyal et al., 2020). Jigme’s extensive network of Forest Officers, researchers and wildlife enthusiasts have supplemented his extensive personal observations in several of his publications, and as a consequence, many of the species currently on Bhutan’s amphibian and reptile checklist were first documented in the country through his efforts. He continues to support and inspire interest in amphibian and reptile research through seminars and field training workshops and is a vocal proponent for improving standards of herpetological research in Bhutan. 

Suggested common name:  Wangyal’s torrent frog.


In summary, we identified four species of Amolops from Bhutan: (1) Amolops sp. 1. (viridimaculatus group: from Tshewang & Letro, 2018), (2) A. cf. gerbillus (marmoratus group), (3) A. cf. putaoensis (monticola group), and (4) A. wangyali sp. nov. (viridimaculatus group). Outside of the new species described herein, we were unable to determine species identities for these taxa given the available data. Until such time as vouchered specimens are clearly identified from the country by means of a detailed morphological comparison of vouchered specimens with relevant taxonomic literature, and/or with the aid of DNA sequence data, the following nine species must be formally removed from the amphibian checklist of Bhutan: (1) Amolops formosus, (2) A. gerbillus, (3) A. himalayanus (including A. aff. himalayanus), (4) A. mantzorum, (5) A. marmoratus, (6) A. monticola, (7) A. wenshanensis, (8) Sylvirana cf. guentheri, (9) Hyla annectans (including Hyla cf. annectans). Unintentional misidentifications in the literature can result in significantly overestimated/ erroneous geographic distributions for species, a situation which undermines conservation efforts. Inaccuracies in such assessments could even result in the redirection of conservation resources (funds and efforts) away from vulnerable range restricted species that require urgent attention. For these reasons, we encourage authors not to assign species names to taxa in publications if there is any uncertainty regarding the identification of the species. Many populations of amphibians reported from Bhutan (and elsewhere in Asia) are provided non-specific locality details (e.g. lack GPS coordinates, elevation details), are not represented in museum/university collections by vouchered specimens, and are often published without photographic evidence. Locally abundant species can often be dismissed as “common”, or of little scientific interest, and subsequently ignored by researchers; however, studies on Himalayan amphibians have demonstrated that “common” or widespread species occasionally represent complexes of morphologically similar species (e.g. Dubois, 1975; Kamei et al., 2009; Dever et al., 2012; Khatiwada et al., 2017; Mahony et al., 2013, 2018, 2020), so careful attention to document every species should be made when possible. Our review of Amolops reports in literature demonstrate that some taxonomic information can be obtained from good quality images of uncollected animals, but inevitably an accurate species inventory for Bhutan’s amphibian fauna will not be possible without permanently maintained reference collections of vouchered specimens. Range restricted species may be only one drought, forest fire or hydroelectric dam away from extinction, thus the urgency to catalogue the Himalayan biodiversity has never been more urgent. 


Sunday, January 2, 2022

NO ONE HAS IT ALL - Simple reasons to remain humble!

Tshering Dema, unstable, sleeps on the jute sacks and stays in a shack but in her hands are twin handsome boys she gave birth to some weeks ago.

Sonam Yangdey, living in a posh house, drives posh cars, went to the best hospital in town for ante-natal care but see her crying for she has another miscarriage.

Kuenzang Choden, beautiful, good job, good house, good husband yet her pillow suffers every night with wetness of her tears, because she is yet to conceive.

Life is deep, who can understand it?

Tshelthrim Wangyal, lives with his parents, his father is a poor carpenter, he goes to school on foot every morning with empty stomach, yet he is exceptionally brilliant.

Tshewang Rinzin, a son of a wealthy politician, goes to school, with escorts and assorted food and drinks, yet he cannot assimilate what he is being taught.

Tashi Dorji, son of a medical doctor, crippled, he cannot help himself, his father cannot help him yet he treats others and they get healed.

What is in this life itself?

We all have it in bits, that is the irony of life. So why the bitterness, the envy, the anger, let's learn to manage our bit and see how we can make it better.

Rinchen Dema, virgin, focused, intelligent, but she was raped on her way to school, she became pregnant, and life was on hold for a moment. Life! Life!! Life!!!

Karma Choden, prostitute, nothing to write home about, married to a good man, have four lovely kids and doing great.

Choekey Lhamo, intelligent, rich family, beautiful, good job, humble, but yet to have a man to call her own.

Wangchuk, despite coming from a poor family holds a PhD and has landed a good public service job, yet he is very arrogant, while Jigme who had no formal education and is employed just as an Assistant to a Professor is still humble, humane, and generous.

No one should think he is better than the next person because we have our life in bits. As we try to manage our bits, let us also try to be a support system.

No one is more, no one is less, we are all unique in our own way.

It is so funny and indeed pitiable to see someone acting so proud and inhumane just because he or she has a slight advantage over others in a particular area of life. Someday when death beckons, you will respond with all your cluttering material possessions.


Seeking Relevance!

Tuesday, December 7, 2021



This book: “The Amphibians of Bhutan” is all about the frogs, toads, salamander, and the obscure and enigmatic caecilians that occur in Bhutan. Of the more than 8,000 species of amphibians currently known worldwide, only 80 anurans, a single species of salamander (Caudata) and at least two undescribed caecilians (Gymnophiona) are recorded in Bhutan. This number is likely far less than accurate since there have been no serious attempts to document this group of animals by researchers or institutions, due to the fact that these moist-skinned animals, who use both land and water to complete their life cycle, do not attract funds for researchers and institutions to generate serious research. Species presented in this primer are thus through the interest of a few of us devoted, like-minded individuals who believe that these animals are extremely important to the life-support system for the Earth to survive.

This work is a result of the collection of information though an online group on the amphibians and reptiles of Bhutan created to educate the public about these neglected groups of animals. I wish to encourage more individuals to value and conserve these diverse and useful creatures. This book is not intended to replace formal batrachology courses nor is it designed for academic purposes. The goal of this book is to strengthen and facilitate connections between amphibians and the people who have a genuine or even a casual interest about the natural history of these interesting animals. And while this book touches on some academic aspects, it intentionally is more conceptual than statistical. For the average reader, common names have been provided while scientists and researchers must look at this work as something in between the core and the casual science. There are several new country records and a few undescribed and unknown species documented for the country (for further work), otherwise, nothing herein is ecologically or biologically new except for those few which are undescribed and unknown. I also freely admit that I have used all the information made available from all forms of media and from many individual citizen scientists and field foresters. In writing this manuscript, I have consulted numerous experts and sought their advice making the MS more than peer reviewed. But we humans all make mistakes – so, if you notice any, please do let me know. Being an amateur, it is even more susceptible to error. Therefore, I would like to suggest to my readers to view my primer less as a book and more as a resource that has its own style and character.


I did not initially think of writing a book; I thought of writing handouts that people can use and share to spread the word about amphibians being incredibly awesome. As such, you will see some vital facts repeated across the various topics, a combination of formal and casual fundamentals, and possibly other characters that might be considered mistakes in other settings.


I hope that book enthusiasts can take this work for what it is and not find its weaknesses too off-putting. This primer may benefit many interested English-speaking readers but I must confess that the examples and photographs are mostly those from Bhutan, not just to do justice to the title of the book but because I am one of those rare Bhutanese who takes batrachology very seriously. Consequently, the species in this primer are those that I am most familiar with, and as a result, not all the amphibian species occurring in Bhutan are covered. Hopefully, readers in other areas of the world can infer from the context which information may be applicable to their regions. Where an amphibian that is endemic to Bhutan appears as an example, there is likely a species which fills a similar ecological niche in your region, and a nominal amount of research should tell how the lesson might apply to your locality.


I wish to restrict the use of any of this information in any way unethical. So please contact me before doing so. I will almost certainly grant permission, provided you are using this material for educational purposes and public awareness and not for any political or commercial mileage. I have tried to be simple and straightforward, but this book does cover biological subject matter, and occasionally being exposed to unfamiliar scientific terms is a part of learning about the natural world. There is a glossary of herpetological terms available for you to refer to at the end of the book. I sincerely hope you enjoy my work!


Before concluding, I wish to make mention about our only endemic amphibian, the Bhutan Cat-eyed Toad, Scutiger bhutanensis. We have an obligation to investigate this species which was described at the turn of the century by scientists from Europe because we were not confident enough about its exact population or even its distribution. It is time that we take the future of these amphibians seriously and protect them using relevant research, funds and legislations. Otherwise, Bhutan might lose some species even before they have been described. It wasn’t too long ago that the endangered Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) was extirpated from the Manas River in southern Bhutan. Let’s not allow history to repeat itself and let’s do our best to protect all animals, small or large that live in Bhutan. We must allow their survival so that our future generations may enjoy them as well. Happy reading!

Fina Cover edited by the publisher Chimaira Books, Frankfurt aM, Germany.

This book talks about as many as 83 species found in Bhutan.
A toad species from Chukha represents a unique Bhutan species.
Himalayan Toad is the most commonly encountered toad species in Bhutan.
A megophryd may be one of the most diverse sub groups in Bhutan.
Amolops species is another most diverse species in Bhutan.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

A Guide to the Reptiles of Bhutan

Bhutan's First Reptile Book Available on Pre-Order

Our intention of writing this book is to trigger an interest in the subject - the science of reptile biology. “Herps”, as the group, along with amphibians, is popularly referred to, are thought to be sensitive to changes in the environment. Understanding their ecology and conservation problems can help us understand threats we face, such as climate change. These animals are also useful for agriculture and other industries, as they are predators of insect and rodent pests which damage the crops, and for disease control through their feeding on insects, snails and others. 

Bhutan, a small kingdom in the eastern Himalayas is home to a diverse flora and fauna. Conservation in Bhutan is currently focused on significant (here implying larger or economically useful) plant and animal species. Consequently, the tiger, snow leopard, elephant and red panda, receive get attention, while snakes, lizards, tortoise and turtles do not have conservation priority even if endemic or endangered. This book, thus is an attempt to create awareness about this neglected group of animals. This book covers 82 species of snakes (out of ca. 102 species), 39 lizards and six turtles, a tortoise and a crocodile. King cobra, Walnut kukri, Pythons and almost all the turtles and a tortoise are under the threatened category of International Union for Conservation of Nature. Endemics of the country include the Bhutan Skink (Eutropis quadratilobus) and the Bhutan Agama (Calotes bhutanensis), both known only from the original descriptions. Species lost from the country’s fauna in the wild is the Gharial (Gavialus gangeticus). We have made an effort to limit the use of technical words, unless unavoidable. Common names and the current scientific names have been mentioned. Range countries have been mentioned, and locations within Bhutan, if known, are specified.


The sizes given is the maximum body length recorded for the particular species. For turtles and tortoises, it is the straight carapace length (CL) while for the lizards and snakes, the snout to vent length (SVL) and for crocodilians, total body length (TL).

On the cover is an Ampheisma snake which is yet to get a name. Concluded amateurishly as an A. parallelum, it could well be any species that is yet to be described. She is from Trashiyangtse Bumdeling and gave birth to three oblong white eggs in my room in BWS headquarter.

We have beautiful lizards like Japalura variegata that occupies our beautiful forests. Sangay Tshewang like Foresters get to see these animals in the wild so very frequently. By the way, the animal is from Dagana and its name is ........................ 

And then we have a critically endangered Yellow Tortoise, Indotestudo elongata from Pema Gatshel. Bhutan does have this species in various places like Sarpang, Gelephu, Samdrup Jongkhar, Zhemgang, etc. Gyembo Namgyal, an educated villager had to report its occurrence from Pema Gatshel.

We also have the King, Ophiophagus hannah that control the herp food web in the wild. The image submitted by one Tashi, a Forester, comes from Jomotshangkha Wildlife Sanctuary in Samdrup Jongkhar District was feeding on a Trachischium species when Tashi took the photographs.
Not only that, we also have some unnamed vipers. The suspected Trimeresurus medogenssis was first considered T. yunanensis by one Jigme Tshelthrim Wangyal, the only then Bhutanese Herpetologist. He later informed the scientific community that it could be a different species. Jigme Tshering in Trongsa thinks it is endemic to Bhutan which must be true!

The beautiful Russel's Viper is considered in India as one of the great four that causes fatalities in India. But in Bhutan, the species has never killed (no data at all but possibility is not ruled out) a person till date. With just three sightings around the same places in Sarpang district, I give the species a rare status in Bhutan. Sangay Dorji in Sarpang thinks that the species is rare in Bhutan.
Spectacled Cobra gets its name from the morphological appearance of the species on the back of its neck that bear two circular marks that appear like spectacles that people use. These are the animals that keep people save and sound by eating animals that harm people. Ecosystem balancers!

The wonderful Himalayan Krait is a species of krait that does not come out much even in the breeding seasons. They carry venoms but they never bite human beings. Thus, the issue of the species being venomous is insignificant.
The innocent banded wolf snake lives in the temperate zone by elevations. 
The amazing Long-tailed Lizard

The recent Salazar
The Japalura of Lhuentse
The undescribed Gasa Snake
The beautiful Pseudocalotes
The well fed Trashigang Hemidactylus
Yet another Hemidactylus fromTrashigang
Ready have sex Garden Lizard
The beautiful bamboo
The Chinese in Bhutan
The most expensive Lizard in Bhutan
The good looking turtle
Another version of False cobra
The King
And the roof!

So, please order a copy. What are you waiting for?

Jigme Tshelthrim Wangyal

Indraneil Das

Sunday, August 15, 2021


Just as we landed Jalukbari, I had my first photo of the first trip, 1996
As a football star with a junior colleague, one, Mr. Mir from Jammu & Kashmir, 1998.
The trees of Jangakhuli forests did not know that they were being measured, 1998.
At the Central Forest Rangers' College, Chandrapur, Maharastra, 1997.
This fig tree is supposed to be the world's largest tree, 1997. Standing under it means enlightened.
Tirupati-Tirumala Temple, 1997. Baring your feet is must. I was told everything inside are gold plated.
It is too hot. Summers are terrible. Inside the Hostel in Jalukbari College, 1998.
Memorable people, remembering the bygone days and 😢. Field trip to cherish, 1996
The Maharajas of India and the British have created beautiful Pinjor Gardens, Harayana, 1997
All Bhutanese Volley Ball Team, 1996. That Bhutanese were stars here is the sure fact. 
In front of the Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, 1998. There are vital offices in this place.
South India tour 1998. Only the Duty Officer gets to carry the Principal's cash bag. Memory to cherish.
Inside a hotel in Darjeeling, east India tour, 1998. I remember some water shortage in the Hotel.
When Indians tried Bhutanese dress, 1998. We had wonderful course mates from 24YOs to 50YOs.
Road Engineering. Part of the course was to carry those stuff and sleep amongst mosquitoes, 1998
Shola forests down south is used for film scenes. With an Indian Film Actor at Ooty shola forests 1997
They call her some Monica, but I really forgot her but we did chance to see her in 1998.
On a beach at Goa with my silent-est friend from Panbhang, 1997. Something we still relish.
With our seniors who ragged us😂as tradition, although picking bad tradition was not necessary, 1997.
With my colleagues during the North Bengal Tour, 1998. We moved everywhere unlike trainees.
Hot yet enjoyable, Pinjor Gardens, Haryana, 1997.
Everything must be formal at times. Ooty, 1998.
Loads of egos then, the energy is directly proportional to young blood. Ooty, 1998.
Scotland of the east in the background. Meghalaya, 1996.
Remembering our first month in Guwahati on Force 10 shoes! We made round of the city. 1996.
Choe (Stream and irrigation) management trip, Harayana, 1997.
Victoria Memorial, Calcutta, 1997
Last but not the least, star power, 1998!

Wangyal's Torrent Frog, Amolops wangyali - Species New to Science

[Herpetology 2022] A Review of Torrent frogs ( Amolops : Ranidae) from Bhutan, the Description of a New Species, and Reassessment of the Tax...