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The Cochin Natural History Society is a non-profit making, non-political charitable institution registered under the Travancore-Cochin Literary, Scientific and Charitable Societies Registration Act, 1955. This is a society of amateur naturalists who live in harmony with nature and seek to protect and to preserve the biodiversity and healthy natural environment. The mandate of the society is to undertake studies and documentation of biodiversity around us and to draw attention to the aesthetic, economic, scientific and conservation aspects.The society also intends to provide a platform to those who are concerned to come together and share, enlarge and correct our knowledge about Nature and its magnificence. Any person, who has a love, interest and commitment towards conservation of our biodiversity and natural history may become a member of the society*.

"You can know the names of a bird in all languages of the world,but when you are finished ,
You will know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird.....
So let`s look at the bird and see what it`s doing --that`s what counts.
I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something."

-Nobel Laureate Richard P Feynman(1918-1988)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Red list of birds brings joy and agony

KOCHI: The Red list of birds released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature has brought joy and agony alike for Kerala.

The conservation status of birds prepared by Birdlife International has downgraded the risk faced by Lesser Kestrel, a small falcon species, whereas it has raised the risk level of Nilgiri Pippit, a species endemic to Kerala.

Four vulture species — White-rumped, Indian, Slender-billed, and Red-headed — of Kerala remain on the ‘Critically Endangered' category this year too. The vulture species are mostly found in Wayanad. Those in the Critically Endangered category are the ones that are facing the high risk of extinction.

Five species, including the Egyptian Vulture, Lesser Florican, Nilgiri Laughingthrush, Nilgiri Blue Robin, and White-bellied Blue Robin continue on the ‘Endangered' species list this year also. Eleven species, including Lesser Adjutant, Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon, and Broad-Tailed Grassbird stay on the ‘Vulnerable' list whereas 19 others remain on the Near Threatened category.

Risk level of Lesser Kestrel was reduced to ‘Least Concern' from Vulnerable considering the improvement in its global population. The species underwent rapid decline in western Europe, South Africa and parts of its Asian range earlier. However, recent evidence indicated a stable or slightly positive population trend overall during the last three generations.

In Kerala, the species was reported from the Eravikulam National Park and the Periyar Tiger Reserve and 35 individuals were spotted at Thekkady during a bird census in 2008, said P.O. Nameer, South Asian coordinator, in situ, Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, Species Survival Commission, IUCN.

Nilgiri Pipit, a species endemic to the Western Ghats of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, faced increased risk of survival and has been classified as Vulnerable. Earlier, the status of the species was assessed as Near Threatened.

According to Birdlife International, the grassland habitat of the species is gradually being converted to plantations of tea, eucalyptus, and wattle. Livestock grazing and frequent fires also pose threats to the species. Disturbance may be increasing as even higher resorts are being constructed in the sholas that border areas of grasslands.

As the species often occupies habitat at the very top of hills, it is potentially threatened by the effects of climate change. Its present population is estimated to be between 2,500 and 9,999 mature individuals, according to the report.

In Kerala, the species is found in high altitude areas including the wildlife sanctuaries of Neyyar, Peppara, Shendurny, Chinnar, Aaralam, and the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Its presence has also been reported from Ponmudi Kallar and the hills of Munnar, Nelliampathy, and Siruvani, said Dr. Nameer, who is also a coordinator of the Indian Bird Conservation Network. Vulnerable status was accorded to the species as it had a small range in which its habitat was severely fragmented and declining in extent and quality.

K.S. Sudhi

The report published in The Hindu dated 14-6-2011

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