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On a mission to rediscover endangered species

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ENDANGERED: Jerdon Courser
ENDANGERED: Jerdon Courser

Staff Correspondent

There are nearly 25 Jerdon's Coursers in India

  • Bharat Bhushan rediscovered it in Andhra Pradesh in 1986
  • Night expeditions planned to discover the birds in Bellary district
  • BELLARY: After the successful rediscovery of the Great Indian Bustards in Sirguppa taluk in the district last year, naturalists are now working on a project to rediscover Jerdon's Courser, a critically endangered species.

    A group led by Santosh Martin, executive trustee of the Sloth Bear Foundation Bellary and Samad of Hospet is working on the project.

    Jerdon's Courser Rhinoptilus bitorquatus is a globally threatened species listed as "Critically Endangered" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, one of seven Critically Endangered species in India, where it is endemic. The most hopeful estimate puts the bird population at around 25 birds in India, says Santosh Martin.

    First sighted

    Jerdon's Courser was first recorded by Dr. Jerdon in 1848 and was thought to have become extinct in India, till Bharat Bhushan rediscovered it again in Andhra Pradesh in 1986. Now the habitat where it was rediscovered has been declared as Sri Lankamalleswara Wildlife Sanctuary to protect the species.

    Jerdon's Courser is a fairly long-legged bird that prefers to run rather than fly. Nocturnal in nature, the bird is active only in the nights like the owls and nightjars.

    The group is planning night expeditions (as these birds are nocturnal) to discover these birds in Bellary district of Karnataka, where it is presumed to exist. The habitat in Bellary district is similar to Sri Lankamalleswara Wildlife Sanctuary in Andhra, which is semi arid and the only known last habitat for these birds in the world.

    "We have planned to commence the expedition in about a week and to start with, it would be in and around the Daroji Bear Sanctuary.

    Electronic devises producing the mimic of the bird's call have already been sourced from Bombay Natural History Society. Each of about four teams would switch on the devices and wait for the return of the call of the bird," he said. Many bird watchers from the State are also expected to participate in this expedition, he said.

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