Eight chicks of a highly endangered Himalayan bird species have been born in captivity in Himachal Pradesh.
The Western Tragopan chicks were born in the last three weeks in the Sarahan bird sanctuary, 180 km from Shimla.
A rarely spotted pheasant with bright plumage on its head and breast, the Western Tragopan is found in the cooler climes of northern Pakistan and India. It is also called 'Jajaurana' or the king of birds.
"Three more chicks were hatched this week, taking the total number of hatched chicks to eight," said Lalit Mohan, chief conservator of the wildlife department.
"The last three chicks have been hatched by the natural mother for the first time this year while the two other previous clutches were hatched by another hen as the natural mothers abandoned them," he said.
The first clutch of chicks was hatched on June 7.
In the previous years, the chicks died soon after hatching. Wildlife officials are keeping their fingers crossed this time.
Officials said that this year has been good for chick hatching due to a far more natural environment created in the sanctuary for the Western Tragopans.
"Utmost care is being taken for the upkeep of the birds. Nobody is allowed to visit the sanctuary," a wildlife official said.
"Even the caretakers are keeping a safe distance so that the birds are not disturbed," he said.
According to the data mentioned in the 'Book of threatened birds of Asia', there are less than 5,000 of these pheasants in the wild and a handful in captivity.
The bird is facing the threat of extinction due to continued forest loss and environmental degradation throughout its restricted area in the western Himalayas.
The Sarahan sanctuary was started some four years ago with the help of British bird expert John Corder.