Friday, August 2, 2013

A second specimen of the bush viper, Atheris hirsuta

 Atheris hirsuta
The viper, Atheris hirsuta was described by Ernst & Rödel in  2002, based on a single specimen found near the ecological research station in the Taï National Park, Côte d’Ivoire. The holotype was found in secondary rainforest between a field station and the town of Taï. It was collected on a dirt road during heavy rain, however, it is clearly adapted to an arboreal lifestyle.

Recently a short survey of the herpetofauna of Mt. Swa in Nimba County, Liberia (~200 km west of the type locality) revealed a second specimen of this species. The mountain does harbour good secondary forests and altitude stays below 600 m above seal level. The specimen was found around 2100 h on the 26 September 2012. The individual was observed climbing in secondary vegetation about 2 m above ground on the ridge of the mountain at about 585 m. No water bodies of any kind were found on top of the ridge. Weather was windy, cloudy but without rain.

Tai National Park holds the largest protected rainforest in West Africa. The forest habitat outside the national park is fragmented and being degraded by agricultural and human population expansion. Eventually  these pressures are expected to extend into the national park.

Citation
Penner J,  Gonwouo NL &  Rodel M-O1 2013. Second record of the West African hairy bush viper
Atheris hirsuta Ernst & Rödel, 2002 (Serpentes: Viperidae). Zootaxa 3694 (2): 196–200.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic. I had kept up with this development. Looking at the picture it looks like Atheris ceratophora from the Eastern Arch Mountains in Tanzania. Minus the supraocular horns.

    This superficial similarity may explain an old record of A ceratophora from Ghana that has confused herpetologist for a long time.

    Tom Hakansson natrix@mindspring.com

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