66 bird species in NE face threat of extinction

NEW DELHI, FEB 18 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 2/18/2020 12:41:49 PM IST

State of India’s Birds 2020 report released during 13th Conference of Parties of the Convention on the conservation of migratory species of wild animals in Delhi Monday stated 66 bird species from North East India come under “high-conservation concern” category.

Of these, 23 are in Arunachal Pradesh, 22 in Assam, seven in Manipur, three in Meghalaya, four in Mizoram, five in Nagaland and two in Tripura, claim reports.

Bar-winged wren babbler, bugun liocichla and Mishmi wren babbler are some of the species in Arunachal, which have been identified as having conservation concerns while the chestnut-backed laughing thrush, white-winged wood duck and Bengal florican in Assam are some species of conservation concern.

The report further revealed that little is known about the swamp grass babbler, which is restricted to grasslands in the Brahmaputra floodplains. The chestnut-backed laughing thrush, endemic to the Indo-Myanmar lowland forests, is only known within India from the Dehing Patkai forests in eastern Assam.

The Naga wren babbler found in Nagaland and Manipur is one of many range-restricted wren babblers found here.

The Indian olive bulbul is found only in the forests adjoining Bangladesh in Tripura, southern Assam, western Mizoram and Manipur, and southern Meghalaya. “Conservation of these last remaining lowland rainforests in the Northeast is key to the survival of this species,” it said. 

The report is the culmination of a collaboration between 10 research and conservation organisations, spanning both government and non-government institutions.

“This assessment of nearly 867 Indian species makes it very clear that our birds are in overall decline, in some cases catastrophically so. Many more species show a downward trend than an upward trend,” the report stated.

The report was created after 10 million observations were uploaded to the eBird platform by more than 15,500 birdwatchers to evaluate the distribution range size of 867 Indian birds, and their trends in abundance in both the long term (over 25+ years) and currently (past 5 years).

“We hope that this information translates into many voices being raised for bird conservation, both among conservation bodies, and the general public,” says Dr Mousumi Ghosh (NCBS-TIFR), part of the team who worked on the report.

Some of the key findings of the report are as follows:

• India’s national bird, the Indian Peafowl, has increased dramatically over the past decades. In contrast, 50% of other Indian species of birds have declined over this time period.

• The analysis indicates 48% of species have remained stable or increasing in the long term, while 79% show declines in the last five years. In some welcome news, the House Sparrow was found to be roughly stable across the country as a whole, although declining in the major cities. In all, 101 species have been classified as of high conservation concern.

• The groups that show the greatest decline are raptors, migratory shorebirds, and habitat specialists, among others.

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