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Updated: September 7, 2012 04:35 IST

Ministry bats for endangered island bird

Priscilla Jebaraj
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Narcondam hornbill. Photo: Special Arrangement
Narcondam hornbill. Photo: Special Arrangement

Takes side of conservationists fighting for survival of 300-odd Narcondam hornbills

The Environment Ministry has taken the side of conservationists fighting for the survival of 300-odd Narcondam hornbills, threatened by a Coast Guard plan to set up a radar surveillance system on the tiny island in the Andamans where the birds make their home.

On August 31, the Ministry of Environment and Forests issued an order rejecting the proposal, suggesting that the Coast Guard explore other options, “like installation of off-shore structures and several other viable options…which can spare the unique habitat of Narcondam Island from disturbance,” pointing out that “there is no such option available for the hornbill whose survival may get seriously threatened if the establishment of proposed radar is allowed on the Narcondam Island.”

The island in question spans less than seven square kilometres, and its mixed tropical forests are the only place in the world where these colourful birds are found. During the time of egg-laying and chick-rearing, the female birds shed their flight feathers, rendering them as vulnerable as the now-extinct — and similarly flightless — dodo.

Conservationists had raised a red flag after the Coast Guard asked for the diversion of a little more than half-a-hectare of forestland, to set up a static radar sensor unit as part of a chain of similar units all along the coast for remote monitoring.

When the proposal was taken to the National Board for Wildlife last year, member A. Rahmani was asked to carry out a site inspection. His report recommending that the Coast Guard’s proposal be rejected was submitted in June. The final decision has now been announced by the Ministry, much to the delight of conservationists.

“Scientifically and ecologically, rejecting a project on Narcondam is fully and entirely defensible,” says Neha Sinha of the Bombay Natural History Society. “But it is also the romantic notion — of helping an island endemic species with no ‘other place to go’ — that also seems to have triumphed.”

The Coast Guard has now been asked to set up an expert committee to “study and explore other alternatives like aerial, satellite, off-shore, ship-based or land-based surveillance systems at other islands, for ensuring the defence and economic security of the country.”

Thanks to the Ministry of Environment and Forests for protecting interest of 450+ Narcondum Hornbills.Alongwith environment protection the Indian Coast Gaurd is concerned with our maritime security particularly security of Bay islands. The second mission is having other options which can be easily implemented.

from:  Ashok Kumar Srivastav
Posted on: Sep 9, 2012 at 13:34 IST

The Environment Ministry's concern for the endangered Hornbill, endemic to the small island of Narcodam, east of the Andaman Islands could not have come at a more right and appropriate time. The Coast Guard's plan to set up radar surveillance would spell doom to the hornbills' survival already threatened due to habitat destruction in the form of hunting, grazing etc. Of the 430 plus birds there are around 250 adult birds that are entirely dependent on trees for nesting and resting. Trees are being regularly cut for fuel and other purposes for a police outpost that was created in the late 60s apart from the ongoing plantation activities taking their toll on the island's fragile ecosystem. Since this place has been declared as a Wildlife sanctuary and the ' Rhyticeros Narcondami' (Narcondam Hornbill) being declared an endangered species, it is the responsibility of the government and its agencies to protect this bird species along with its environment.

from:  vyjayanthi
Posted on: Sep 7, 2012 at 17:24 IST

It is a heartly welcome decision. Every ministry should take these kind of inspirational decisions to preserve our environment and habitats.

from:  Raghava Rao
Posted on: Sep 7, 2012 at 16:04 IST

this is such a great news and thanks to all for saving such a rarest and precious species. its our moral duty. hats off to our ministry team.

from:  shruti gupta
Posted on: Sep 7, 2012 at 16:04 IST

Great news! Well done MoEF!

from:  Gayathri
Posted on: Sep 7, 2012 at 15:52 IST

these bird must be grateful to the NBW,they just saved these species.
What about the displaced tribals? they lost their livelihood .they are forced to become beggars.they have nowhere to go.Is a life of a bird is more important than a life of tribal?

from:  amarendhar reddy saireddy
Posted on: Sep 7, 2012 at 15:11 IST

thank u ms.jayanthi natrajan and thank u to the environment ministry
folks - it was well and wisely done

from:  sujatha rangaswami
Posted on: Sep 7, 2012 at 13:45 IST

To hear a bird sing/chirp/call in the morning is one of the most pleasant feelings that can refresh you for the whole day. Save the trees for them. If you love them, they will love you too.

from:  BELLA
Posted on: Sep 7, 2012 at 11:15 IST

Great News. Many congratulations to those campaign to save the habitat
of this species.

from:  Siva
Posted on: Sep 7, 2012 at 07:31 IST
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