Posts Tagged 'Indianwildlife'

Vanishing Species – Jerdon’s Courser

An article by Mohan Pai



Jerdon’s Courser

 Rhinoptilus bitorquatus


species, today less than 200 birds survive!


 The Jerdon’s Courser (Rhinoptilus bitorquatus) also known as Doublebanded Courser, is a nocturnal bird belonging to the pratincole and courser family Glareolidae endemic to the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh. The bird was discovered by the surgeon-naturalist Thomas C. Jerdon in 1848 but not seen again until 1986.
Naturalists searched for it in its native habitat in eastern India but without success. In 1975/76 the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) launched another search for it. The BNHS circulated posters showing a coloured picture of the bird in the Pennar river valley in southern Andhra Pradesh. There was a note in Telugu accompanying the posters. One day a tribal said he had seen the bird shown in the poster and that it was known as Kalivi-Kodi in Telugu. He said the birds moved in groups of seven to eight and fed at night.
In January 1976 a poacher caught a Kalivi-Kodi but by the time a representative of the BNHS reached him the bird had died. But the scientists were closing in on the bird and soon afterwards they saw some of them in their natural surroundings. They watched entranced. Their long search was over!The kalivi-kodi was indeed Jerdon’s Courser and it was alive and well!
Historically, it was known from just a few records in the Pennar and Godavari river valleys and was assumed to be extinct until its rediscovery around Lankamalai in 1986. It has since been found at six further localities in the vicinity of the Lankamalai, Velikonda and Palakonda hill-ranges, southern Andhra Pradesh, with all localities probably holding birds from a single population.
Still, with only a few birds sighted, today the Jerdon’s Courser is categorized as critically endangered in the World Conservation Union’s Red List and is also listed under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, and is considered as priority species under the National Wildlife Action Plan (2002 – 2016) of the Government of India.
This bird was known only from a few historical records and was thought to be extinct until its rediscovery in 1986. It remains critically endangered due to loss of habitat. It is nocturnal in habit and presumed to be insectivorous. Being a rare bird, nothing is known yet about its behaviour and nesting habits.Population estimates for the bird range from between 25 and 200. Recent studies have made use of techniques such as camera trapping and carefully placed strips of fine sand to record footprints from which estimates of population density are made. The known world population of the species is restricted to a very small region and attempts have been made to find new areas by distributing pictures and small electronic call players to people in neighbouring regions that share similar habitats.In 1988 the Indian Postal Service released a stamp to commemorate the rediscovery.




Given that it is so poorly known, it is difficult to identify specific threats, although its habitat is becoming increasingly scarce and fragmented. Following the construction of the Somasilla Dam, 57 villages were displaced and relocated within the Lankamalai, Palgonda and Seshachellam areas, which were previously inaccessible. The dependence of the settlers on the area for resources may pose a serious threat to
habitat through fuelwood-collection and livestock-grazing, and to the birds themselves through increased disturbance. In addition, extensive quarrying is destroying habitat.
The habitat area of Jerdon’s Courser
Suitable habitat for the species lying outside Sri Lankamaleswara Wildlife Sanctuary is threatened by the proposed construction of the Telugu-Ganga Canal in Cuddapah District, although mitigation measures proposed will result in an increased area of habitat becoming available for management by the Forestry Department.


 References: Wikipedia, Birdlife International, Dimdima kids (Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan)

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Vanishing Species – The Great Indian Bustard

An article by Mohan Pai

The Great
Indian Bustard

(Ardeotis nigriceps)
On the verge of extinction.

(Only less than 1,000 birds are now surviving in


The Great Indian Bustard is the most famous endangered and rae bird of India which dates back to the Eocene period 40-50million years ago. It is a large spectacular bird and good to eat and as it frequents open country where there are great pressures of human population and agriculture, protective measures are extremely difficult. The Indian Board of Wildlife, in late 1950s had considered this bird as a possible choice of the National Bird along with the Peacock. Apart from other shortcomings, there was an apprehension about the misspelling and mispronunciation of the word ‘Bustard’ ! It is now on the endangered red list of IUCN due to its small and declining population. In olden days it was widely distributed in almost all the arid and semi-arid plains from Uttarpradesh in the North to Tamilnadu in the South, and, from Rajasthan-Gujarat in the west to Orissa in the east. Spread of agriculture, destruction of its habitat by over grazing by livestock, and indiscriminate shooting has made the bustard a highly endangered species. However it still survives in six states: Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharasthra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradash. Rajasthan state holds more than half of the Great Indian Bustard population.

The main strong hold of the Great Indian Bustard in Rajasthan is the western portion consisting the Great Thar Desert. Some birds are found in Kota, Ajmer and Bhilwara districts. The birds are surviving in the desert regions of Bikaner, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Barmer and Jalore districts mainly because human population is comparatively low and agricultural activities are minimal. Nevertheless, with the development of the Indira Gandhi Canal in western Rajasthan more and more portions of bustard habitat will go under the plough. But marginal expansion of agriculture does not affect the bird if some areas are left for them to breed undisturbed.

The Great Indian Bustard is classified as Endangered because of its very small, declining population, a result of hunting and continuing agricultural development (Birdlife International 2000). It has entirely disappeared from five Indian and Pakistani states.

It is a large ground dwelling bird with a long neck and long bare legs like that of an ostrich. It stands at about a metre high and is a large, brown and white bird, the male is about 122 cm (48 in) in length, its weight is 18–32 lb (8–14.5 kg) and the female 92 cm (36 in) in length, its weight is 7.8–15 lb (3.5–6.75 kg). The sexes are similar in appearance although the male is deep sandy buff coloured. The crown of the head is black and crested. In the female which is smaller than the male, the head and neck are not pure white and the breast band is either rudimentary or absent.The male is polygamous. The female lays only single egg once in a year and incubates it for about 27 days. Nests are situated in the open ground and males take no part in incubation or care of the developing young. The eggs are at risk of destruction from other animals. The fledglings tend to remain with their mother until the following breeding season.It lives in arid and semi-arid grasslands, open country with thorn scrub, tall grass interspersed with cultivation. It avoids irrigated areas. It is omnivorous in diet feeding on seeds of grasses, small shrubs, insects, rats, grams, groundnuts, millets etc. depending on the season.Breeds during March to September during which time the inflated fluffy white feathers of the male are inflated and displayed. The male also raises the tail and folds it on its back. The neck is folded and the male periodically produces a resonant deep, booming call.The current population is estimated at less than 1,000. The main threat is habitat loss. Ghatigaon and Karera santuaries in Madhya Pradesh had sizeable population earlier but now there is no Great Indian Bustard. Other sanctuaries with the species include Karera wildlife sanctuary in Shivpuri district; Nannaj, 18 km from Solapur in Maharashtra and Shrigonda taluka in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra.


In the 80’s, the five states where the bustards were resident, created 8 protected areas for the birds. But some of these sanctuaries have been destroyed due to bad management and government apathy. According to Dr Asad R. Rahmani, bustard expert and current director of the BNHS, there has been a 50% decline in the bustard population in the last 10 to 15 years. The BNHS is starting a one-year campaign to convince the government to start Project Bustard on the lines of Project Tiger and Project Elephant. Unless there is protection and proper management of the grasslands, the bustards along with his fellow inhabitants of his home may soon disappear altogether.

For some of my earlier aricles, please visit:
For some key chapters from my book ‘The Wetern Ghats’, please log on to:
For detailed blog (6 Chapters) on Mahadayi/Mandovi River Valley, please log on to:
For the book ‘The Elderly’ please log on to:

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