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HOME FOR THE HIMALAYAN NEWT

The Himalayan Newt, commonly known as the Salamander, is a living fossil which has lived the age of the dinosaurs. It is also said to be the missing link between the Reptiles and the Amphibians. The animal not being very colourful or big in size or not having the capacity of any displays, it almost goes unnoticed and does not attract local people’s participation in conservation, without which it cannot be saved. The best part is that any conservation effort of this animal will come only through conservation of its habitat, which is unique only to the Darjeeling Hills. If this habitat is lost, the attraction of Darjeeling will be lost forever.

It occurs between the altitudes of 1330-2220 metres a.s.l in the Shiwalik, Mahabharat and Chulachuli hills of Eastern Nepal and in the Darjeeling sub-division of West Bengal (India) besides in Bhutan, Kamlang valley in Lohit district of Arunachal Pradesh (India), Ukhrul and Senapati districts of Manipur (India), Kakhein hills of Myanmar, Loei and Chiang Mai provinces of Thailand and in Western China. It is mostly known to inhabit the cloud forests and cool mountain lakes and temporary as well as permanent pools in the Eastern Himalayas. However, wherever it is found, it is threatened and its future is uncertain. It makes a low noise while snapping its jaws; giving its Nepali name 'pani kukur' and its Thai name 'mah nam' both of which mean 'water dog'. The Gorkhas of North Bengal call it 'gorho'.

One of the major initiative that have been taken by the Swiss Hotel is to organize protection of this animal using a part of the payment made by every guest staying in this hotel or taking any of the services generated by the hotel. This will also involve local people to take pride by getting visitors to the Salamander habitat as this animal is in hibernation almost all through the year except the monsoons.


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