Endangered Indian skimmers breed at Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary

Seven Indian skimmers, an endangered bird species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list, were spotted in VGDS, Bhagalpur, last month

the first breeding site of endangered Indian skimmers (Photo Courtesy: PTI)
the first breeding site of endangered Indian skimmers (Photo Courtesy: PTI)
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PTI

The Bihar Forest department has discovered the first breeding site of endangered Indian skimmers — also known as Indian scissors bill (Rynchops albicollis) birds — in the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (VGDS), in Bhagalpur district, an official said.

Seven Indian skimmers, an endangered bird species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list, were spotted in VGDS, Bhagalpur, last month, the official said "This is for the first time that the breeding site of rare Indian skimmers has been discovered in Bihar. There were a total of four eggs… one was destroyed because of the weather conditions, but currently, three chicks have been hatched.

"The hatching took place after an incubation period of 20 to 30 days. We have further increased the protection measures so that they get a safe ground. Officials are monitoring them round the clock", Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests & Chief Wildlife Warden, P K Gupta told PTI on Wednesday.

"The sanctuary is a 60 km stretch of the river Ganga from Sultanganj to Kahalgaon in the Bhagalpur district and it was notified as Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary in 1991. This is for the first time that Indian skimmers were observed in Bihar," Gupta said.

Forest department officials and VGDS are closely monitoring the movements and behaviour of all seven rare birds and three hatchlings, he said, adding that the presence of Indian skimmers have been earlier observed at very few locations in India.

Researchers and bird lovers will now be engaged to study the breeding behaviour of these rare birds in detail and also the ecological factors that contribute to their survival, said Gupta.


"State Forest department officials are excited and delighted that the department's conservation efforts for migratory birds are producing positive and successful results", Gupta said.

The conservation of migratory bird species presents many challenges, as these birds rely on multiple geographically distinct habitats, including breeding grounds, he added.

The Indian Skimmer is native to India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Vietnam.

According to the IUCN Red List, a critical indicator of the health of the world's biodiversity, the worldwide population of Indian Skimmers is estimated at 2,450-2,900 mature individuals, based on the compilation of counts and expert estimates from across the species’ range.

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