Satellite transmitters to be tagged on Bengal Florican
KATHMANDU, March 2: Nearly a dozen Bengal Floricans in Nepal are going to be tagged with satellite transmitters next week with the aim of discovering their habitat during winter. Less than 1,000 of the birds are to be found in the entire world.
The critically endangered bird species, 10 percent of whose numbers are found in Nepal alone, shows up in grassland or wetland during their breeding season or in summer. This is the first ever study regarding where the birds move out to during winter, according to Dr Hem Sagar Baral, bird specialist and director of Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN).
“They can be seen in summer in wetlands but we do not know where and how they live at other times. We have so far described them as a wetland bird but this study might lead us to review the idea,” Baral said.
“The transmitters will be fixed on around 10 Bengal Florican in the Koshi river area on March 3. The study is very important because they are the rarest of rare species, with less than 1,000 of them in the entire world, including one third of them to be found in India and around 100 in Nepal,” he added.
With support from the UK government, BCN in Nepal and Bombay Natural History Society in India are going to study the birds at the same time. “This will make it easier for both countries to track the species, which otherwise can be counted only during the breeding season,” noted Ishana Thapa, chief executive officer at BCN.
Thapa informed that five technical experts and bird specialists from within and outside the country would be involved in the project.
“In the vultures´ case, their numbers basically decline due to the use of dycloflonic, but loss of habitat has been identified as the major reason behind the premature death of Bengal Floricans,” she said. “After this study we might be able to identify what kind of other habitat we must conserve for them,” Thapa added.
According to Baral, the Bengal Florican is a large terrestrial omnivorous bird that nests on the ground, and it is the only member of the genus Houbaropsis. The male Florican, which is smaller than the female, is black from head to neck and underparts and its upper parts are buff with fine black vermiculations and black arrowhead markings, and with white patch on wing coverts. “The females have a buff brown color with a dark brown crown and narrow dark streak down the side of the neck. These are a very fragile species,” he said adding that loss of habitat and also poaching are a great threat to the birds.
It was listed as a critically endangered bird species in the 2007 International Conservation Union Nepal (ICUN) red list, following a massive decline over the years.