Developmental Activities Threaten Survival Of ‘Critically-Endangered’ Bengal Floricans In Assam

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Developmental activities pose threat to critically-endangered Bengal Floricans of Kokilabari Seed Farm; Photo Credit : Deccan Herald

 

  • NET Web Desk

Scientists across the globe have raised concerns on the new challenges faced by species in regard to its survival. Listed specifically, such obstacles include – climate change, habitat change, urging for modernization/developmental activities.

Developmental activities have posed a threat to Bengal Floricans – the ‘Critically Endangered’ species listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

According to a global conservation group, the Assam Government’s proposed plan to establish an university at Kokilabari seed farm adjacent to Manas National Park, popularly termed as – ‘haven’ for Bengal Floricans is the major reason to blame the future endangerment of these species.

In a letter sent to Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the conservation group appealed the government to protect the farm by declaring it as a community reserve.

“New developments at Kokilabari seed farm are deeply disturbing. We are aware that traditional farmers are being outbid for land by wealthy investors. This is of great concern, as local communities around Kokilabari have a fine tradition and knowledge of land management and can be trusted to carefully tend the parcels entrusted to them. Outside investment always carries the risk of management for short-term profit at the expense of long-term sustainability. These changes pose a huge threat to the viability of the farm and therefore to the local communities and the biodiversity that depend on it,” – Nigel Collar and Mimi Kessler, co-chairs of IUCN Bustard Specialist Group said in the letter.

“Moreover, we are also aware of the plan to convert the farm into a university campus. We are in principle always supportive of moves to improve higher education, but to destroy a natural jewel like Kokilabari would be a terrible sacrifice of nature. We are sure that there are other sites that can be developed without committing irreversible environmental damage at Kokilabari,” – the letter further added.

The seed farm with almost 58 Bengal Floricans has been identified among the top three populations surviving on the planet, alongside D’Ering Sancuary in Arunachal Pradesh and Nepal’s Koshi Tappu having 100 birds each.

Scientifically termed Houbaropsis bengalensis, the Bengal Floricans survives in two very small populations – one in the Indian subcontinent; and the other in Cambodia.

Recently, the critically-endangered Bengal floricans have been spotted in Daying Ering Wildlife Sanctuary (DEWS) in East Siang district, Arunachal Pradesh.

According to a survey conducted by the Bombay Natural History Society and London-based ZSL EDGE and Segre Foundation, around 100 individuals of the species currently reside in the sanctuary.

The northeastern state is striving to protect these species, through various activities meant to generate awareness among the common masses.

During an essay competition event organized under the theme “Conservation of Bengal Florican in Arunachal Pradesh” by the Wildlife Division of D. Ering Memorial Wildlife Sanctuary on the occasion of 67th Wildlife Week, stressed conservational efforts of Bengal Florican across DEWS.