Alarmed by the falling count of the endangered Lesser Florican (Kharmor), the MP forest department has roped in Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) to conduct a year-long survey to find out reasons behind its dwindling population.
While 34 Kharmors were sighted in Madhya Pradesh last year, only 24 have been sighted this year. The state has two dedicated sanctuaries for Kharmor, Sailana in Ratlam and Sardarpur in Dhar district, but the species was also spotted at Petlawad in Jhabua district. BNHS is also instructed to suggest steps to attract the species to the two sanctuaries.
Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF, Ujjain) BS Annigeri said, “We know very little about this bird and a detailed study will be very useful. There is a lot of speculation and very little hard facts regarding the decline in the number of birds coming to Madhya Pradesh. BNHS scientists have visited Sailana in the last week of August and have started their survey.”
Annigeri added that ornithologist Salim Ali, who was associated with BNHS, had visited Sailana area in 1982 and had advised authorities to set up the sanctuary.
The CCF added that the forest department has approached the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to seek permission to tag the bird with microchips in order to figure out their migration pattern. “Since it is an endangered species, the government’s permission is necessary. WII is the right body for this job because they had done a similar operation in Rajasthan in 2014 and had tagged three Kharmors, one of them for eight months.”
Ajay Gadikar, a member of the BNHS team to conduct the survey, said they will cover the sanctuaries and the Petlawad area. “By 2017, we will be in a position to provide an action plan to the department on ways to have proper habitat management and to tackle the falling number of birds,” Gadikar said.
Kharmors are naturally shy birds and visit the sanctuaries during monsoon to breed.
Their mating ritual involves the male bird jumping as high as eight feet in the air around 500 to 600 times a day to attract female birds.
BNHS is a reputed non-governmental organisation known for its pioneering work in the field of conservation and biodiversity research.