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Endangered Blyth’s Tragopan sighted at Shirui

 Source: Imphal Free Press

UKHRUL| Dec 19

The endangered species Blyth’s Tragopan (Tragopan Blythii) has been sighted at Shirui after a long time. Blyth’s tragopan pheasant is the largest of the genus Tragopan and the sighting of Blyth’s Tragopan locally known as “Rikshira Khangaowa” recently at Ron-ngai of Shirui has once again raised the issue of its protection and conservation.  Tragopans are usually found in dense undergrowth of evergreen forests at altitudes not less than 1700 meter, and they feed on fresh leaves, seeds, acorns, berries, bamboo shoots, and insects. The local named it “Khangaowa” because of its very loud ‘ngao ngao’ sound it makes.

 

Endangered Blyth’s Tragopan sighted at Shirui

Endangered Blyth’s Tragopan sighted at Shirui

The size of Tragopan male is 67-70 cm and female is 59 cm. The adult male, largest of all Tragopans, is a brilliantly colored over-sized pheasant. Iris brown, horns light blue, legs pinkish brown. The bare face skin is bright yellow, a black band extends from the base of the bill to the crown and a broad black band extends behind the eye. The female Tragopan is similar to the Satyr hen, but is larger and paler and overall dark brown in colour with black, buff and white mottling. Blyth’s Tragopans start mating in April and continues well into May. The males in order to attract females enter into flamboyant displays. After a female becomes fertilised, she can lay up to two to five eggs. The incubation period for eggs lasts for about a month, and after hatching, the offspring has a similar appearance to the female hen. The male Tragopans acquire red on their neck during the first spring moult. During the second year of its life, the tragopan attains full adult plumages. It might be mentioned here that the Forest department and wildlife lovers of the Manipur State in 2010-11 had announced an award of Rs 50,000 on one live pair of Nongins. This kind of promotion will go a long way in conserving Blyth’s Tragopan and people should also be aware that the hunting and trapping of Tragopan which is considered as a delicacy by the locals and the people neighbouring villages have greatly contributed in reducing the population of the species in Shirui Range. Haphazard forest fires in the Shirui Range are also significant threats, and the construction of PMGSY Road from Shirui to Mapum has also a significant effect on the species as it takes away the natural habitat of the bird. The population of the tragopan is declining because of the PMGSY Road which is also dividing up the populations into smaller subpopulations due to fragmentation, and the presence of the birds in few numbers at different places with huge distances have narrowed the potentials for genetic variation which is important for increasing their population. Deforestation is a major factor in the decreasing population of Tragopan Blythii, as the forests are the main source of food. By removing this source, the pheasants are left with little or no food to consume. Forest and Wildlife department of Manipur can come out with a policy to protect and conserve the endangered species in collaboration with the locals.