State of India’s birds: 14 bird species in Maha at high risk

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Published on Feb 18, 2020 04:24 PM IST
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By, Mumbai

The latest report analysing the trends in abundance of birds occurring in India has flagged 14 bird species at high conservation risk in Maharashtra.

The State of India’s Birds 2020 Report released on Monday, at the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species at Gandhinagar, Gujarat, recorded raptors, migratory shorebirds, and species endemic to the Western Ghats (including along Maharashtra) had declined considerably. The Konkan coast, including the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, is the second-largest migratory bird habitat after the Gulf of Kutch, Gujarat, according to the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).

Using a citizen-science database (eBird) of information contributed by birdwatchers, the status of 867 birds was assessed by a collaboration between 10 research and conservation government and non-government organisations, 101 species were classified as high conservation concern across India.

Of these 101, 14 bird species for Maharashtra (at the sub-national level) - broad-tailed grassbird, forest owlet, Tytler’s leaf warbler, great knot, Nilgiri wood pigeon, green munia, yellow-fronted pied woodpecker, common pochard, woolly-necked stork, short-toed snake eagle, and crested treeswift - were identified as key species of most conservation concern.

“Habitat destruction is a major concern in Maharashtra for all species listed under high conservation concern,” said Girish Jathar, assistant director, BNHS (one of the contributors of the report). “Coupled with habitat destruction at their winter home, migratory bird (water birds and waders) numbers have declined due to changes in breeding grounds (across Europe and in northern Asia).”

Citing examples of threatened species, Jathar said, cases of Green Munia being hunted for bird trade is another major concern. Among the 14 birds in Maharashtra, the Broad-tailed Grassbird, Short-toed snake eagle Woolly-necked Stork and Green Munia need urgent attention.”

For the Mumbai region, the Common Pochard, Great knot, and Curlew Sandpiper (not on the list of 14 species) have witnessed a large decline in population migratory bird numbers, added Jathar.

The report relied on more than 10 million observations contributed by over 15,500 birdwatchers. “Earlier, many conservation decisions pertaining to birds was not based on much evidence; this report helps to bring much-needed data to bear on these issues,” said Dhananjai Mohan from Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun.

Deepak Apte, director, BNHS said, “We need to do a lot more to make sure further decline of these species is stopped. Implementation of Central Asian Flyway programme as envisaged under the National Action Plan will help achieve it. It also means we need to protect habitats by engaging local communities.”


    Badri Chatterjee is an environment correspondent at Hindustan Times, Mumbai. He writes about environment issues - air, water and noise pollution, climate change - weather, wildlife - forests, marine and mangrove conservation

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