Alarm bells in MP as only two pairs of Kharmors spotted this year | bhopal | Hindustan Times
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Alarm bells in MP as only two pairs of Kharmors spotted this year

Only two pairs of Lesser Florican birds, or Kharmors as they are known locally, have been spotted in Madhya Pradesh this year, sending both forest department and bird lovers in a tizzy.

bhopal Updated: Aug 29, 2017 17:28 IST
Punya Priya Mitra, Hindustan Times, Bhopal
Madhya Pradesh,Lesser Florican,Kharmor
Endangered Lesser Florican

Only two pairs of Lesser Florican birds, or Kharmors as they are known locally, have been spotted in Madhya Pradesh this year, sending both forest department and bird lovers in a tizzy. The count in by far the lowest in the past 35 years, when two grassland sanctuaries were set up in the state –at Sadarpur, Dhar and Sailana in Ratlam in Western Madhya Pradesh– exclusively for the Lesser Florican. These migratory birds come to the grasslands to breed during the monsoon season

According to bird lovers and ornithologists, if this trend continues, these shy endangered bird species would vanish from the state, like the Great Indian Bustard.

Indore based ornithologist Ajay Gadikar, who has been studying Kharmors for the last 15 years said the fall is drastic from 20 birds last year to only four this year. “It has been hovering between 20-35 marks during the past decade, and has never fallen so low.”

The situation is unfortunate, says CCF Ujjain, B S Annigeri. “Only one pair has been seen in Sailana and one pair in Jeeran beat it Neemuch, which is not a sanctuary. The reason could be delayed monsoon coupled with less rainfall in Western Madhya Pradesh,” he said adding that the only positive was spotting of the bird in Neemuch, where it was last seen in 2009. “These birds might be finding new pastures.”

Former director of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), A R Rahmani talking to HT over phone termed the situation as ‘alarming’. The reason for their decline is well known – loss of grassland which is their natural habitat, use of pesticide which kills the insects which these birds feed on among other things. Rahmani also pointed out that it is very difficult to protect these birds since they are visible in the grassland only during their mating season, after which they migrate to other places where they are not protected. “We have to make a proper study of these birds and involve the people living near these bird sanctuaries and make it profitable for them to protect the bird,” Rahmani added.

At present in a last ditch effort to save the bird, a comprehensive survey cum census is being done jointly by the WII, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), The Corbett Foundation (TCF) with State Forest Departments across states to better understand the habitat, spread and density to devise a comprehensive conservation strategy. The survey is now going on in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat simultaneously.

IN BOX

The naturally shy Lesser Florican mate during monsoon. To attract the female, the male may jump over 500 times a day from a spot with a short croaking sound to show its vitality.

Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Yale University have included the Lesser Florican among the 15 Indian species in their list of 100 Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species worldwide.

IN BOX

2014 – 19

2015- 34

2016 – 20

2017 - 4

First Published: Aug 29, 2017 15:40 IST