Survey in Munnar forest division hints at its rich biodiversity stock, identifies 170 bird species – The Hindu


Some of the species spotted in the survey held in the Munnar forest division: Nilgiri Pipit, Black-and-Orange Flycatcher, Palani Laughingthrush and Nilgiri Marten. (Clockwise from top left)
The first bird survey held in the Munnar forest division has spotted as many as 170 bird species including 11 vulnerable and 21 endemic bird species.
According to officials, the survey significantly hinted at the rich biodiversity of the division, which is more in news for being an area prone to man-animal conflict. Normally, wildlife divisions and not forest divisions, are considered rich in biodiversity. P.O. Nameer, Professor and Head of Centre for Wildlife Studies, College of Forestry, Kerala Agricultural University, says.
The three-day-long survey began on October 22 and was conducted jointly by bird watchers and the Forest department. The team was led by Munnar DFO Raju Francis, bird watchers Prem Chand Raghuvaran, Kausthub K.N., and Sreehari K. Mohan, Mr. Nameer, and scientist Praveen J.
Munnar Divisional Forest Officer Raju Francis says the survey was held in 10 base divisions of Munnar, Adimali, Neriamangalam, and Devikulam forest ranges under the Munnar forest division. “The survey was held in different habitats such as forests, grasslands, and Shola forests in areas ranging from 150 feet to 7,000 feet above sea level,” he says.
Some of the birds included in the vulnerable list spotted by the survey were Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon, Nilgiri Pipit, White-bellied Sholakili, Malabar Grey Hornbill, and Broad-tailed Grassbird. Birds included in the near-threatened list that found space in the survey were Palani Laughingthrush, Grey-headed Bulbul, Black-and-Orange Flycatcher, Nilgiri Flycatcher, Green Imperial Pigeon, and Rufous-bellied Eagle.
Species including Nigiri Marten and some rare birds were found in the forest division. The survey also recorded Lesser Cuckoo, Eurasian Wryneck, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Broad-tailed Grassbird, Bay Owl, Common Buzzard, Legge’s Hawk Eagle, Wayanad Laughingthrush, and Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher. “Of this, spotting of Lesser Cuckoo and Eurasian Wryneck are rare because these birds usually pass through the State during their migration and hence are tough to spot. Even among the two birds, Lesser Cuckoo’s spotting has been very rarely recorded,” says Mr. Nameer. 
Some of the sightings, such as of bay Owl, hinted at the robust state of biodiversity in the forest division, according Mr. Francis. “The insights from the bird survey would get positively added to the working plan of Munnar forest Division, which is under preparation. The involvement of staff in the bird survey would improve their understanding of the bird population in their area of control and help in better management of biological resources,” he adds.
According to Forest officials, the focus of forest divisions is mainly to curb man-animal conflict and to protect animals. “But now, based on the new survey, the department will take steps to protect the rich bio-diversity around the forest divisions,” says a Forest department official.

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