BNHS supports scientific human intervention in conservation

Highlights Chinese Crested Tern’s success story

Oct 09, 2013 06:10 IST India Infoline News Service

BNHS India has always been advocating human intervention based on scientific research combined with people’s participation to ensure effective conservation of the remaining wildlife and wilderness areas. While the latest list by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) includes 15 bird species from India as Critically Endangered, there are examples such as Spot-billed Pelican whose condition has improved due to such interventions. The success story of Chinese Crested Tern is also an interesting case study.

Conservation through Research and Community Participation
All the threatened bird species on the IUCN list, including the Critically Endangered species as well as their habitats require immediate attention and conservation action. Most of these species are declining drastically in terms of numbers and distribution range and many are now on the verge of extinction. However, when appropriate conservation action is taken, based on science and with the involvement of local communities, several other species have bounced back.
For instance, the Spot-billed Pelican, which was earlier categorized as Vulnerable, is now better off and regarded as Near Threatened. The improvement has been primarily because of protection provided to its breeding sites, not just by the forest department, but also by the local villagers. Such examples of community participation in conservation can be observed across India from Khonoma Conservation Reserve in Nagaland to the hornbill habitats in horticultural landscape of Konkan in Maharashtra and the bird congregations in Kheechan in Rajasthan.

Chinese Crested Tern
International studies have shown that until this year, there were only two known breeding colonies of the Critically Endangered Chinese Crested Tern; viz. Mazu Islands off the coast of Fujian and Wuzhishan Islands off Zhejiang in China. However, this summer an innovative tern colony restoration project has led to the establishment of one more habitat for the bird. Interestingly, this comes as a welcome change in the otherwise devastated Chinese landscape comprising polluted rivers, deforested mountains and increasing urbanization in the quest for quick GDP growth!
Earlier this year, a small island called Tiedun Dao in Jiushan Islands – an archipelago where Chinese Crested Terns used to breed – was chosen for colony restoration. The restoration team consisting of local authorities and experts used decoys and playback tern calls to initially attract the birds. Much earlier than expected, a substantial new colony of over 2,600 Great Crested Terns and 19 Chinese Crested Terns soon took shape on the island, including 600 fledglings of the former and at least one fledgling of the latter. International experts, including those from BirdLife International, observed that this was the highest single count of Chinese Crested Terns since the species’ rediscovery in 2000.
Commenting on the re-colonization initiative, Dr Asad Rahmani, Director, BNHS India (which is the BirdLife partner in India), said, “This is good news. Strong conservation action, based on science is also required for species such as Great Indian Bustard, Bengal Florican and Black-breasted Parrotbill. Actions should be species and site specific since problems vary across geographical regions.”

IUCN Threatened Birds list for India (2013)

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English Name Scientific Name Category
Himalayan Quail Ophrysia superciliosa CR
Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea CR
Baer's Pochard Aythya baeri CR
Forest Owlet Heteroglaux blewitti CR
Great Indian Bustard Ardeotis nigriceps CR
Bengal Florican Houbaropsis bengalensis CR
Siberian Crane Leucogeranus leucogeranus CR
Spoon-billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus pygmeus CR
Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarius CR
Jerdon's Courser Rhinoptilus bitorquatus CR
White-backed Vulture Gyps bengalensis CR
Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus CR
White-bellied Heron Ardea insignis CR
Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris CR
Indian Vulture Gyps indicus CR
Green Peafowl Pavo muticus EN
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala EN
White-winged Duck Cairina scutulata EN
Narcondam Hornbill Aceros narcondami EN
Lesser Florican Sypheotides indicus EN
Masked Finfoot Heliopais personatus EN
Spotted Greenshank Tringa guttifer EN
Black-bellied Tern Sterna acuticauda EN
Greater Adjutant Leptoptilos dubius EN
Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus EN
Saker Falcon Falco cherrug EN
Black-chinned Laughingthrush Strophocincla cachinnans EN
Nilgiri Blue Robin Myiomela major EN
White-bellied Blue Robin Myiomela albiventris EN
Nicobar Megapode Megapodius nicobariensis VU
Swamp Francolin Francolinus gularis VU
Manipur Bush-quail Perdicula manipurensis VU
Chestnut-breasted Partridge Arborophila mandellii VU
Western Tragopan Tragopan melanocephalus VU
Blyth's Tragopan Tragopan blythii VU
Sclater's Monal Lophophorus sclateri VU
Cheer Pheasant Catreus wallichi VU
Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris VU
Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis VU
Dark-rumped Swift Apus acuticauda VU
Pale-backed Pigeon Columba eversmanni VU
Nilgiri Wood-pigeon Columba elphinstonii VU
Pale-capped Pigeon Columba punicea VU
Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis undulata VU
Sarus Crane Grus antigone VU
Black-necked Crane Grus nigricollis VU
Wood Snipe Gallinago nemoricola VU
Indian Skimmer Rynchops albicollis VU
Pallas's Fish-eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus VU
Nicobar Sparrowhawk Accipiter butleri VU
Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga VU
Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca VU
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus VU
Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus VU
Grey-sided Thrush Turdus feae VU
Kashmir Flycatcher Ficedula subrubra VU
White-browed Bushchat Saxicola macrorhynchus VU
White-throated Bushchat Saxicola insignis VU
Beautiful Nuthatch Sitta formosa VU
White-naped Tit Parus nuchalis VU
Yellow-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus xantholaemus VU
Grey-crowned Prinia Prinia cinereocapilla VU
Bristled Grassbird Chaetornis striata VU
Broad-tailed Grassbird Schoenicola platyurus VU
Marsh Babbler Pellorneum palustre VU
Rusty-throated Wren-babbler Spelaeornis badeigularis VU
Tawny-breasted Wren-babbler Spelaeornis longicaudatus VU
Jerdon's Babbler Chrysomma altirostre VU
Slender-billed Babbler Turdoides longirostris VU
Black-breasted Parrotbill Paradoxornis flavirostris VU
Yellow Weaver Ploceus megarhynchus VU
Green Avadavat Amandava formosa VU
Snowy-throated Babbler Stachyris oglei VU
Nilgiri Pipit Anthus nilghiriensis VU
Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis VU
Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris VU
Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola VU
Indian Spotted Eagle Aquila hastata VU
Great Slaty Woodpecker Mulleripicus pulverulentus VU
Bugun Liocichla Liocichla bugunorum VU
White-cheeked Partridge Arborophila atrogularis NT
Satyr Tragopan Tragopan satyra NT
Tibetan Eared-pheasant Crossoptilon harmani NT
Hume's Pheasant Syrmaticus humiae NT
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca NT
Yellow-rumped Honeyguide Indicator xanthonotus NT
Andaman Woodpecker Dryocopus hodgei NT
Malabar Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros coronatus NT
Ward's Trogon Harpactes wardi NT
Blyth's Kingfisher Alcedo hercules NT
Brown-winged Kingfisher Pelargopsis amauroptera NT
Derbyan Parakeet Psittacula derbiana NT
Nicobar Parakeet Psittacula caniceps NT
Andaman Scops-owl Otus balli NT
Andaman Hawk-owl Ninox affinis NT
Andaman Wood-pigeon Columba palumboides NT
Andaman Cuckoo-dove Macropygia rufipennis NT
Nicobar Pigeon Caloenas nicobarica NT