The Maharashtra State Wildlife Board (MSWB) headed by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis granted permission to 19-year-old Thackeray, younger son of Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to conduct research on species of freshwater crabs in the Sahyadri landscape.
Tejas, whose is known for his love for animals and wildlife, had earlier this year discovered three new species of freshwater crabs endemic to the Western Ghats, one of which was named after his family's surname. This included Ghatiana atropurpurea (Amboli), Ghatiana splendida (Chakul) and Gubernatoriana thackerayi (Raghuveer Ghat).
Finance and Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said that the meeting had consented to Tejas' application for collecting live samples from protected areas in the Western Ghats for scientific research and study on the species. These locations may include Koyna, Radhanagari, Bhimashanker, Kalsubai, Karnala and Tansa.
Mungantiwar said that the samples will have to be collected under the supervision of the divisional forest officer (DFO). The proposal said the collection of live samples will not affect the animals in the protected areas or their habitat in any way.
“Under section 29 of the Wildlife (protection) Act 1972, carrying live samples outside the protected forest needs special permission by the wildlife warden. The proposal, in turn, comes to the board for approval,” said an official from the forest department.
Forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said Tejas sought permission as he wanted to carry out scientific research on the crabs. “The species which Tejas wants to research are found in the Radhanagari, Koyana, Bhimashankar and Kalsubai sanctuaries in the Sahyadris. We were told about Tejas’ application only when it came up in the meeting,” he said.
The proposal says Tejas has sought permission to collect live samples of the Ghatiana, Gubernatorana, Ingletelphusa and Barytelphua crabs.
Tejas had discovered and described the freshwater crabs that live in the Western Ghats. His paper was published in the Zootaxa journal on February 23.
The MSWB has also decided to encourage the conservation of wild buffaloes in the Kolamark conservation reserve in Gadchiroli.
The crab he discovered has an attractive red shell and saffron-red pincer-like claws. He also published a paper regarding this in the journal Zootaxa on February 23. Tejas’ elder brother Aditya is Yuva Sena chief and leads the party’s youth wing.
Tejas told an English daily that he wanted to gather more information about the crab, as no document is available at present.
“I had proposed research and collection permits for freshwater crabs in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra. These crabs are not protected by the law and are not on the schedule list. We have virtually no information on these crabs. It’s a very poorly studied group. Hence we wish to study the diversity of species, the endemism, distribution pattern, ecology and behavioral pattern. The information we gather from this study would be a key to the conservation of the species and help us understand and protect the Western Ghats, keeping in mind the wide array of biodiversity they host."