If you thought that humans were the only species to have a thriving nightlife, you might have to reconsider your thoughts. Forests come alive at night, and the Western Ghats is a great region to observe this fascinating nightlife in. If you are a curious person at heart, the sights and sounds of the night can stir your soul in unimaginable ways and leave you overwhelmed. On moonlit nights, under glittering skies, are the stars of the show – bioluminescent fungi, fireflies, the unmissable hooting of owls, the deafening symphony of cicadas, frog calling in the pouring rain, and unseen slithering reptiles.
My favourite time of the year is the monsoon and post-monsoon season, when forests are bustling with life. The Western Ghats’ evergreen tree canopies, ferns, shrubs and plants turn a hundred shades of green, and are home to thousands of creatures. As much as a day walk can offer a wildlife enthusiast, a walk in the dark can enthral quite a bit more. Contrary to darkness being associated with nights, I oddly find it more colourful; as you witness the life around you at night, your eyes also start adjusting themselves to see through the darkness.
When I wanted to paint a series of paintings showcasing the behaviour of one particular species, the Malabar Gliding Frog (Rhacophorus malabaricus) was my first and most favourite choice. A frog that glides sounds unreal, but nature is full of surprises. Gliding frogs of the genus Rhacophorus are a unique and spectacular group in the arboreal frog family Rhacophoridae. There are currently 13 valid species, with four species — R. malabaricus, R. pseudomalabaricus, R. lateralis and R. calcadensis — endemic to the Western Ghats. The reason I chose to showcase the Malabar Gliding Frog at night is because I became an admirer of this frog during my night walks in the forest. These paintings are gouache along with ink and acrylic.