New species of bird discovered in NE
A bird species, locally common in eastern Himalaya and overlooked till now, has been identified as a new species. A team of scientists from India, Sweden, China, US and Russia have described this species from the North East region and adjacent parts of China as the Himalayan Forest Thrush, informed a press note from Atul Sathe, Assistant Director – Education & Communication, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).
This is the first Indian bird (Zoothera salimalii), which has been named after Late Dr Sálim Ali, who was closely associated with BNHS-India, including as a researcher, honorary secretary and finally as its president. The bird has been named after him in recognition of his huge contributions to the development of modern Indian ornithology and wildlife conservation.
Dr Per Alström and Shashank Dalvi first discovered the species in May-June 2009 while studying birds at high elevations in western Arunachal Pradesh. It was realized that instead of a single species – Plain-backed Thrush (Zoothera mollissima) – as believed till now, in reality there exist two different species in eastern Himalaya. Till now Himalayan Forest Thrush has been overlooked because of its close similarity in appearance to the Plain-based Thrush, now renamed as Alpine Thrush.
The BNHS stated that new bird species are rarely discovered nowadays, as most natural habitats are shrinking. Since 2000, an average of five new species has been discovered globally every year, mostly from South America.
The Himalayan Forest Thrush is only the fourth new bird species described from India by modern ornithologist since independence. Commenting on the development, Dr Asad Rahmani, Senior Scientific Adviser and former Director, BNHS said, "It is a remarkable discovery and shows how much more we have to do in the field of ornithology in India. It also proves that North East India is a treasure trove of biodiversity that needs protection from the mega projects that are planned in Arunachal Pradesh without giving any attention to biodiversity conservation."