Research on Brahmaputra flood plains need of the hour, says expert

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Former Director Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) Director Dr Asad R Rahmani has stressed on extensive survey and research on the Brahmaputra flood plains to assess the diversity, distribution and density of tropical grassland birds. BNHS is a renowned wildlife research organisation in India.

Speaking at a seminar at Manipur University’s Life Science department on Saturday, Rahmani said, “Such research will help to monitor the status of important grassland bird species such as Black Breasted Parrotbill, Marsh Babbler and Jerdon’s Babbler (of the Dibru Saikhowa National Park and Biosphere Reserve) because, the Brahmaputra River also known as father of all rivers, changes every year.”

He said some birds found in these floodplains are also found in Manipur’s Loktak Lake area.

There are about 70 grassland birds out of 890 species found in Assam, Rahmani said adding that out of them (70 grassland birds), 13 are globally threatened species while 35 are obligate to grasslands.

The scientist also expressed his desire that the research scholars of the region take up specific study on grassland species such as Bengal Florican and Manipur Bush Quail considering their importance in maintaining the grassland eco-systems.

Current population of Bengal Florican is believed to be around 600 while the Manipur Bush Quail which was recorded last in 1935, is reportedly spotted in Manas (Assam) and Nagaland in the last 10 years.

“There should be a project on Black Breasted Parrotbill, one of the most threatened species in the world,” he pointed out.

“Someone need to prove whether this species is (really) obligate to grassland or not by conducting detailed mapping of its habitats in Manas, Kaziranga(Assam) and Keibul Lamjao(Manipur),” Rahmani added.

If necessary the harvest pattern of the region could be checked as most the habitats of these species are fragmented in recent times as increase of human population and cattle in the world has directly put tremendous pressure on the grassland ecosystems, he felt.

Reports claimed that Black Breasted Parrotbill is obligate to grasslands of West Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.

Earlier, speaking on “The Amazing World of Birds”, Dr Asad R Rahmani said that Zoothera Salimate is the latest bird species discovered in the world from Arunachal Pradesh which was home to 1,270 bird species, in 2016.

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