Jerdon’s Courser

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Rhinoptilus Bitorquatus

BEST SEEN AT: Sri Lankamalleswara Wildlife Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh
STATUS: Schedule I/ Critically Endangered
GOOD TO KNOW: One of the world’s 50 critically endangered birds

Courtesy : P Jegannathan

“I DO not like to accept that this bird is definitely extinct,” said ‘birdman’ Dr Salim Ali. All past attempts — two surveys in the 1970s, circulated sketches and leaflets amongst local officials, villagers, Adivasis and shikaris — failed to yield the bird. While the ornithologist passed away without seeing a live specimen (he did see a dead one, confirming the bird’s existence!), the Jerdon’s Courser was rediscovered by scientist Bharat Bhushan and a local trapper in 1986 in Cuddapah district of Andhra Pradesh.

The courser is nocturnal and runs swiftly in a zig-zag manner while picking up its food (mainly insects). A ground nesting bird, it favours broken woodlands and scrub forests. Its population is concentrated in one habitat — under pressure from increasing settlements near the sanctuary, over-grazing and clearing of the jungle. With the Bombay Natural History Society’s efforts, 1,200 hectares have been added to the sanctuary as compensation for a canal that will now run through its habitat.

Prerna Singh Bindra

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