Rare white-bellied heron spotted in Arunachal Pradesh
The white-bellied heron, a rare and elusive bird, was spotted at Walong in the Anjaw District of Arunachal Pradesh, officials said on Saturday. Walong is around 557 kilometers from the State Capital, Itanagar. The white-bellied heron is one of the rarest birds in the world and is at present found only in Bhutan, Myanmar, and the Namdapha Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh.
Bird was spotted at a height of 1,200 meters
The bird was spotted and photographed by Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Anjaw Santosh Kumar Reddy, Range Forest Officer Nosing Pul, and scientist Dekbin Yonggam earlier this month. "The recent sighting at a height of 1,200 meters above sea level is a first at such a higher elevation in India," the forest officials said.
White-bellied heron is categorized as 'critically endangered' by IUCN
The white-bellied heron had also been recorded in the Kamlang Tiger Reserve in Lohit District. It is categorized as 'critically endangered' in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Data Book and is listed in Schedule IV in the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
The breeding season of white-bellied heron starts in February
"The presence of nesting sites within this area is a positive sign for the future habitat as the breeding season of the white-bellied heron starts in February and lasts till June," the officials said. Principal Chief Conservator of Forests RK Singh said that it is great news that the critically endangered bird is establishing new habitats beyond its traditional range.
'The bird's appearance is a good sign'
Singh said, "The bird establishing new habitats epitomizes the positive health of the forest ecosystem in this biodiversity-rich state." Chief Wildlife Warden G Kumar said, "It is a good sign for the rare bird to appear in the pristine forest areas of Arunachal."
Scientists to research conservation of the endangered bird
Kumar said that a team comprising scientists of the Forest Department along with those from reputed national institutions such as Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, and Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata would soon carry out joint field research. The research aims to find out ways to conserve the future prospects of the rare and globally threatened bird.
Locals to be made aware about importance of protecting bird
"Since the bird is extremely shy to human presence, the gaon buras and village heads of Walong have been asked to make local communities aware of the importance to protect the bird and conserve its habitat," Kumar said.