Itanagar, Jun 9: In what could be a significant finding for Avifauna diversity of Arunachal Pradesh, the Sclater's Monal (Lophophorus sclateri) and Himalayan Monal (Lophophorus impejanus) have been sighted at Mount Eko Dumbing that lies between Yingkiong and Singga in Upper Siang district.
The birds were sighted by wildlife enthusiasts Obang Mibang, Dr Tajir Tamuk and Geyon Tayeng while on an expedition to Mount Eko Dumbing led by Everester Kishon Tekseng and his team in the last week of April this year.
Mount Eko Dumbing, situated at an altitude of 4173 metres above the mean sea level (MSL), is one of the highest peaks in Upper Siang district, covered with snow for most part of the year, and is home to various species of flora and fauna.
Sclater's Monal are endemic to high mountain ridges of North East India, southern China and northern Myanmar. Listed as 'vulnerable' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to habitat loss and hunting, such sightings help in understanding its distribution.
A single male was sighted near Komji Lipik at an altitude of 2850 metres above MSL. Himalayan Monal, a colourful bird is more widely distributed from Afghanistan to North East India along the Himalayan ranges. A pair of male and female was sighted at Bomeh at an altitude of 3700 metres above MSL.
"Eko Dumbing and Upper Siang have rich flora and fauna biodiversity, a paradise for wildlife and nature lovers that should be conserved," said Dr Tamuk, an orthopaedic surgeon and wildlife enthusiast.
Everester Kishon Tekseng, who belongs to Upper Siang, feels the same. "Locales need to conserve it for wildlife tourism in which local youths will be the most benefitted," he said. Another wildlife enthusiast Obang Mibang said, "The area needs to be conserved, preserved and protected for its healthy ecosystem level vegetation, diversity of species, cultural and religious importance."
Sclater's Monal and Himalayan Monal were earlier recorded from Mayodia Pass and Sela Pass in Arunachal Pradesh but this is the first photographic record of these birds from Upper Siang district.
A total of 80 species of birds were also recorded during the mountain expedition. "Scalater's Monal is an endemic bird of Eastern Himalaya, restricted range species, mostly recorded from junction of India, Myanmar, Tibet and Yunnan province of China. It is a high altitude bird, rarely come down below 1500 metre. Restricted to Arunachal in Indian side. Population is estimated to be only 10000 individuals. So listed in vulnerable category of threatened species and is schedule-I species of WPA, 1972," RGU assistant professor (Zoology) Dr Daniel Mize said.
He added that sentinel of good habitat, sighting in some habitat indicate a healthy habitat. Threats are mainly habitat degradation and over exploitation. Sighting the birds at Eko Dumbing indicates a pristine habitat and need to protect the habitat, Dr Mize said.
Regarding Himalayan Monal, the assistant professor said it is a more common bird, however, it is only found in Himalayan range in India and sighting them at Eko Dumbing together means the area must be one of the most suitable habitats left, so it is an important bird in the state which may need protection before adverse human interference occurred.