In a first of its kind, during the Ganga aquatic biodiversity survey, the Wildlife Institute of India-National Mission for Clean Ganga (WII-NMCG) team recorded 57 Indian Skimmer from river Gomti. Indian Skimmer or Rynchops Albicollis is a waterbird species, more widespread in the winter season.
More About the Bird
The Indian skimmer gets its name from its skimming behaviour over water surfaces. One can identify an Indian Skimmer through its black upper part, white forehead, collar, and lower parts. It has a long, thick, deep orange bill with a yellow tip and a longer lower mandible.
The juveniles on the other hand have a dusky orange bill with a blackish tip, paler brownish-grey crown, and nape with dark mottling and paler, more brownish-grey mantle.
Indian skimmer is found in the coastal estuaries of western and eastern India. It primarily occurs on larger, sandy, lowland rivers, around lakes, and adjacent marshes. They also breed colonially on large, exposed sand-bars and islands.
Once distributed across the Indian Subcontinent, Indian skimmers are mainly found along large rivers in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal. However, their population faces the threat of habitat degradation, exploitation, pollution, and degradation of rivers and lakes.
Why a significant development?
Indian Skimmer is listed as an endangered species due to its small global population size. It has also suffered a continuous decline in its population size. The species has been lost as a breeding bird from all of South East Asia, and Myanmar. The recent and future rate of population reduction is thus estimated at 34-46% over three generations.
Earlier in January 2021, researchers in Bangladesh discovered Indian Skimmers on a survey in Nijhum Dwip National Park. Three of the birds had color bands, tagged by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS, BirdLife in India).
As mentioned by the Union Environment Ministry, this is the first time that 57 of its species have been recorded which in itself is a positive sign for the population.
Biodiversity Conservation & Ganga Rejuvenation
The project “Biodiversity Conservation and Ganga Rejuvenation” is an integral part National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG’s) vision for Ganga Rejuvenation by restoring Ganga’s ecological integrity. The Wildlife Institute of India is part of the project and the main aim of the project is to develop a science-based aquatic species restoration plan for Ganga River by involving multiple stakeholders.