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State to count, map out bird species for better wildlife management

NEW DELHI: For better wildlife management and conservation and to arrive at an estimate of various bird species in the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats landscape, the state forest department has launched an avifauna study in the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve (STR). While revealing details of endemic birds, it will also disclose species which were not recorded earlier.


The study by researchers and experts from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, will map various species of birds found in the protected areas of the STR, namely the Koyna wildlife sanctuary and Chandoli national park and it’s buffer along with their distribution, density and habitat. This will help draw up a long-term conservation management and action plan.

“This will help us arrive at a list of species, sub-species and new species of birds and diversity of hill birds in the Western Ghats” said V Clement Ben, Chief conservator of forests and project director of the STR, adding that the study would continue for 18 months. Ben noted that this would also improve wildlife management in the region. At present, the tiger project has recorded around 275 birds including endangered and threatened species. The various species of birds found in Chandoli and Koyna include hornbills, Indian river tern, long-billed vultures, woodpeckers and crested goshawks.

Gopi G.V, scientist, WII, said that the study would reveal species richness and abundance in the landscape.”We are looking at land use and land cover categories in the landscape and the species components of birds and their estimated abundance,” he added, noting that based on the findings, a long-term conservation and management plan for the landscape could be developed. “Since the landscape is difficult and rugged, we are recording bird calls and trying to identify species,” said Gopi, adding that a sighting-based protocol based on observation was also being used. The study is being funded by the state forest department through the Sahyadri tiger reserve foundation. Researcher and project biologist Ashutosh Singh said the project, which was slated to end in early 2018, would record new species and even those which were sighted earlier but had withered away. “We will sight new species which had not been reported so far. We have to give total avifauna distribution in the STR,” he added.

The STR is the only tiger reserve in Western Maharashtra and is spread over an 1165.56 sq km landscape. It is spread over the four districts of Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur and Ratnagiri.