New Delhi: With Jerdon`s Courser, a nocturnal bird from Andhra Pradesh which is one of the 50 rarest birds of the world, facing the threat of extinction, government has decided to take special steps to protect it.
A high-level committee of the Environment Ministry decided to include the Jerdon`s Courser as the 16th species in its Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats` (IDWH) scheme under which measures are taken for protection of the endangered species.
The standing committee of National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), chaired by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, took the decision following a request from Andhra Pradesh government.
The list of endangered species for whose protection special steps are being range from snow leopard in Kashmir to the brow antlered deer in Manipur and the megapode from Nicobar. It also includes the Asiatic lion, which is now only found in Gir wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat.
Bustard (including floricans), dolphins, hangul, Nilgiri tahr, marine turtles, dugongs and corals, edible nest swiftlets, Asian wild buffalo, vultures, Malabar civet, great one horned or Indian Rhinoceros and swamp deer are the other species included in the list.
The Jerdon`s Courser, discovered by surgeon-naturalist Thomas C Jerdon in 1848, is a restricted-range endemic bird found in the state`s Eastern Ghats.
The bird was thought to be extinct till its rediscovery in 1986 in the state`s Sri Lankamaleswara Wildlife Sanctuary. The bird is endemic to scrub jungle habitats in the state and is listed in the Schedule-I of the Wildlife
(Protection) Act, 1972.
According to BirdLife International, a global alliance of conservation organisations working together for the world`s birds, "The Jerdon’s Courser inhabits sparse, thorny and non-thorny scrub-forest and bushes, interspersed with patches of bare ground, in gently undulating, rocky foothills."
Studies using tracking strips have revealed that the species has a strong preference for certain densities of scrub-jungle habitat and is active mainly at night.
However, scrub jungle clearance for farming and plantations and development projects in and around Protected Areas have been posing serious threat to the Jerdon`s Courser.
Since the year 2000, the Bombay Natural History Society along with Royal Society For Protection of Birds (RSPB), University of Reading and supported by the Andhra Pradesh Forest Department has been conducting research on
the species as well as its habitat and also made considerable progress in developing standard survey techniques.
The NBWL viewed that "more research on the species and its habitat is required," especially with respect to baseline information on the species, habitat preference, behaviour.
In order to have a planned programme for conservation of the species, the Andhra Pradesh government in consultation with the Bombay Natural History Society had proposed a species recovery plan for the Jerdon?s Courser.
Considering this, the Standing Committee of NBWL agreed to the proposal to include Jerdon`s Courser as 16th species under recovery plan.