Flora and Fauna

The Western Ghats are home to over 5000 species of plants, with more than 50% of them endemic. Here one can see an abundance of evergreen and semi-evergreen trees, ferns, shrubs (many which have medicinal properties), fungi, and over 40 species of wild orchids. The large mammals have been eliminated due to excessive hunting but this environment supports an amazing range of small animal diversity (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, arachnids and insects) which we have documented and recently published as a book.

Wild Orchids

Mojo is home to over 40 species of wild orchids which flower in different seasons. Ground orchids such as Pectelis gigantea, Habeneria longicornieulata, Satyrium nepalense emerge from a bulb and blossom in September/October. Most orchids are epiphytes — which means they live non-parasitically on trees for support and derive moisture and nutrients from the atmosphere. Examples of these are several species of Dendrobium and Bulbophylum, Trias, Aerides, Eria, Coelogyne and Vanda. Many flower in the dry months between January and April, while others are adapted to flower in the monsoon rains. We have also documented a couple of species previously not recorded from Kodagu — Pachystoma pubescence and Diploprora championii.

Mammals

Mammals documented here include wild boar, barking deer, civets (2 species), Slender loris, Nilgiri marten, mongoose, porcupine, Black-naped hare and a variety of other rodents and bats.

Birds

Kodagu is home to over 250 species of birds, and almost half of them can be spotted in this area. Endemic species include Malabar grey hornbill, Malabar whistling thrush, Malabar trogon, Crimson backed sunbird, White bellied blue flycatcher, Flame throated bulbul, White-bellied tree pie and others. Winter visitors such as golden and black-naped orioles and the enigmatic Paradise flycatcher are commonly seen.

Herptofauna

With our numerous streams, tanks and dense canopies, Mojo is a hot-spot for herptofauna. The annual rains coax an incredible array of amphibian and reptile life out into the open which we are constantly documenting.

The gliding frogs (Rhacophorus malabaricus and its smaller and extremely rare cousin Rhacophorus lateralis) seem to be a favorite with everyone but there is much more to see. Here one can find many rare endemic species of reptiles such as the flying lizard – Draco dussemeri, Nilgiri forest lizard, Malabar pit viper, Kodagu striped caecilian, Blue shieldtail and more. Rat, cat and vine and wolf snakes are common and, if you are really lucky, you may even sight a King cobra.

Arachnids and Insects

Scorpions and spiders comprise the class Arachnida. Like serpents, they have been much maligned (thanks to Hollywood) and are feared. However, they are essential components of a balanced ecosystem and a farmers’ best friend. We have an amazing diversity of spiders here including the rolled leaf spider (genus Poltys, species unknown) which was documented for the first time in India, here at Mojo Plantation and published in Sanctuary Asia.

Insects are the most successful group of animals on our planet. They have been around for 300 million years and occupy all niches. They are remarkable for their diversity and mind-boggling numbers (Scientists have calculated that ants alone out-weigh all the humans on earth). There are an estimated 20- 30 million species of which less than 1 million have been documented. Many insects have co-evolved with plants and are critical for their (and our) survival. Yet, we have relegated them to the role of ‘pests’. In a healthy eco-system, populations are kept in a fine balance through prey/predator/parasite relationships.