Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Rare Manipur Bird Pops Up After ‘Wanted’ Lure - Hindustan Times

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A police ploy to catch criminals is believed to have brought a rare bird back from the dead.

The nongin or Mrs Hume’s bar-backed pheasant — Manipur’s state bird — is no felon. But wildlife officials in July announced a R50,000 award on its head with a twist in a police-style poster: wanted alive, not dead.

It was a long shot, for gastronomical hunters were suspected to have pushed the bird towards extinction.

Hope flickered last month when villagers from Soreiphei area of Ukhrul brought a male nongin to the Manipur Zoological Garden in the Iroisemba area of Imphal.

“The nongin is safe and under observation,” said A. Kharshiing, additional chief conservator of forests (wildlife), adding that some villagers reported seeing another male bird in the area.

Officials admitted they weren’t expecting the award scheme to work, not at least for the nongin that figures in the Schedule I list of endangered species.

But visitors to the zoo have been disappointed as the nongin has been kept in a secluded zone. “It’s too early for the bird to be put up for public viewing,” said R.K. Birjit, a bird specialist.

Officials plan to extend the award scheme by including the hoolock gibbon, Burmese green peafowl and serow (a goat-like animal).