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‘Lesser’ Florican prompts Madhya Pradesh to develop habitat at Sailana

Times of India, New Delhi, September 17, 2014

 

Alarmed over continuous decline in migration of Lesser Florican locally known as Likh and Kharmor in Madhya Pradesh, forest department has taken up the task to protect and develop habitat of the endangered bird at Sailana Wildlife Sanctuary. This season, number of Lesser Florican migrating to state has come down by 26% as compared to last year. According to the data collected from different sanctuaries of the state, till now only 11 Lesser Florican have migrated to state, as against 15 last year. Forest department is planning to develop different variety of grass, pulses and water bodies across the sanctuary. "We are taking help from experts to identify species of grass, which is suitable for Florican's habitat," said chief conservator of forest (CCF) PC Dubey.

 

Along with grass and water, availability of insects is important for birds and, therefore, department has allowed free grazing inside the sanctuary. "Cattle's dung inside sanctuary will provide a breeding ground for insects," said Dubey, adding that Florican migrate here for breeding and they need sufficient protein diet for their newborn, and insects are an important source of protein for birds. Ornithologist Ajay Gadikar, who has been tracking movement of Lesser Florican in state for last five years said, loss of habitat and grassland is main reason behind decline in their numbers. Gadikar said Sailana grass patches with tiny scrubs and small plants of Palash and babool would be ideal as Florican prefer mosaic type of grassland.

 

The existing species of grass at Sailana is attracting herds of Bluebull (Nilgai), which in turn, is creating a lot of trouble for lesser Florican nests. The birds lay its eggs on ground, which is always under danger of being destroyed due to movement of Nilgai. Change in crop pattern in the region is also considered as one of the reason for decline in migration of Florican. In Sailana, soyabean is being cultivated near breeding grounds of Lesser Florican. Soyabean needs regular use of pesticides to kill insects, which is main food of Lesser Florican. The bird eats insects killed by pesticides that badly affect them. Forest department is also contemplating to encourage farmers to cultivate moong, jawar and other pulses instead of soyabean.