TODAY -

Rarest duck Mandarin sighted at Loktak lake
Source: Hueiyen News Service / Sobhapati Samon

Imphal, December 12 2013: For the first time with concrete scientific evidence, one of the rarest ducks in the world has been reported in Manipur's Loktak Lake.

The rare duck, Mandarin duck (Aix galericulata) locally known "Sana Manbi Nganu" belonging to the family of Anatidae, was sighted by a team of ornithologists, researchers and environmentalist on the third day of their 10-day long study on the important bird areas (IBA's) of Manipur at Toubul area of Loktak lake.

Dr Raju Kasambe of BNHS (Bombay Natural History Society)'s IBA programme and RK Birjit Singh of Center for Conservation of Nature and Cultivation of Science (CCNCS) led researchers' team has been conducting a study on the IBA's of Manipur since December 9 .

"There has been no concrete record on the presence of Mandarin duck in Loktak so far as per AO Hume's (Birds of Manipur, Assam, Sylhet and Cachar, 1888) and JC Higgins's (Game Birds andAnimals of Manipur (1910-1934) except by Salim Ali from Mayangkhang in Senapati District in 1939", said RK Birjit of CCNCS., adding that it was brought and reared in Manipur Zoological Garden for public exhibit sometime in 2009 (but it dies on March 1, 2010) .

Even though the species has been categorized as Least Concern globally by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Birdlife International, Mandarin Duck is acknowledged as one of the rarest ducks in India. "Even Dr Kasambe has told us that he had hardly seen the species in other parts of the country", RK Birjit said, adding, "This is a great moment for all the bird watchers and lovers of Loktak Lake of Manipur" .

The reason behind the sighting of species could be because of sudden increase of open water of the lake, he opined.

The species was once widespread in eastern Asia, but large-scale exports and destruction of its forest habitat have reduced populations in eastern Russia and in China to below 1,000 pairs in each country; Japan, however, is believed to still hold some 5,000 pairs.

There are now about 7,000 pairs in Britain, and other populations on the European continent, the largest in the region of Berlin.

The greatest threat to the Mandarin Duck is habitat loss due to loggers.

Hunters are also a threat to the Mandarin Duck, because often they are unable to recognize the Mandarin in flight and as a result, many are shot dead by accident.

Mandarin ducks are not hunted for food, however, they are still poached because their extreme beauty is prized.

Around 57 species including 27 migratory and 30 resident birds and two nearly threatened species Ferrigunous Pocchard (Aytha nyroca), Darter (Ahimsa melonogaster) visited Loktak, the largest fresh water lake in NE India last year, according to the bird census of 2012 .

The ongoing 10-day long research study on the IBA's important bird areas in Manipur, which began since December 9, is being carried out in association with the Department of Forest, Wild Life Wing, Government of Manipur.

Apart from Loktak lake, which is Ramsar site, and its peripheries including Keibul Lamjao National Park, the study would also covered areas like Leimatak Riaprian Forest , Ango or Anko Hills (IBA criteria, A1, A2) in Ukhrul District; Bunning Wildlife Sanctuary (IBA criteria, A1, A2) in Tamenglong District; .

Dzuku Valley (IBA criteria, A1, A2) in Senapati District; Jiri-Makru WLS (IBA criteria, A1) in Imphal East & Tamenglong District; Kailam Wildlife Sanctuary, (IBA criteria, A1, A2) in Churachandpur District; Shiroy Community Forest, (IBA criteria, A1, A2) in Ukhrul District; Yangoupokpi Lokchao WLS (IBA criteria, A1) in Chandel District and Zeilad Lake Sanctuary (IBA criteria, A1) in Tamenglong District.

Another objective of the study team is to look for new possible IBA's from Manipur to be included as per Birdlife International's IBA consortium.

During the study at Loktak, the team had already noticed a marked increase in the number of migratory birds like Gadwall (Anas strepera) or Thoidingnum in local dialect, and Lesser whistling duck (Dendrocygna Javanica), popularly known as Tingee in local tongue, flocking to the biggest fresh water lake in the whole eastern India and its surrounding wetlands during winter season over the last three years or so.


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