Jerdon’s Courser (Rhinoptilus bitorquatus) is a nocturnal cursorial bird found only in the State of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is one of the world’s rarest bird species and is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The species was believed to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 1986 near Reddipalli village, Cuddapah District of Andhra Pradesh, India. The site where it was rediscovered was designated as the Sri Lankamaleswara Wildlife Sanctuary. Since 2000, research on the Jerdon’s Courser and its habitat has been conducted by Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) along with Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Universities of Reading and Cambridge, supported by the Darwin Initiative and the Andhra Pradesh Forest Department (APFD). There has been considerable progress in developing the standard survey techniques to detect their presence and describe the broad habitat requirements. However, there is a clear need for more research to procure baseline information on the species mainly through radio telemetry studies that is vital to its survival. In addition, the species is under great pressure from unsustainable development and management practices.
This combination of a lack of information on the Jerdon’s Courser, coupled with increasing pressure on its habitat, has prompted stakeholders to devise a Species Recovery Plan (SRP). The main purpose of the SRP is to secure the long-term survival of the Jerdon’s Courser. The SRP advocates a multi-pronged approach that includes elements of research, monitoring, advocacy, conservation education, habitat management & training and funding. It clearly outlines responsibilities and timeframes to facilitate regular monitoring and evaluation. The document lays great stress on applying the ‘precautionary principle’ wherever possible considering the threatened status and restricted distribution of the species. The SRP is a result of inputs from a wide range of stakeholders including the government, NGOs, national and international scientists and civil society. It is therefore a very inclusive and realistic document. This SRP will serve as a reference for conservation managers, policy-makers, researchers, decision-makers and form the basis of future conservation actions.