Western Madhya Pradesh is witnessing a bad year with respect to the arrival of the endangered Lesser Floricans (Sypheotides indicus) in the area.
There are primarily three areas where the floricans used to arrive for the breeding season in western M.P. These are Sailana sanctuary in Ratlam District, Petlawad in Jhabua District and Sardarpur sanctuary in Dhar District. No birds have arrived in M.P. this year until the 31st of July. in earlier years they used to arrive by the 1st and 2nd week of July, and stick to the areas for a period of 3-4 months until the completion of the breeding cycle. This year some birds were seen post July in these areas as per forest department staff, but they all seem to have moved to other areas after a week or so due to unfavourable conditions.
The absence of these birds has caused anxiety amongst bird watchers, Forest Department and scientists.
Possible reasons for their absence could be:
- Very low and erratic rainfall in florican habitats
- Very low grass cover and increasing human pressure in florican habitats
- Last 2-3 years saw a considerable number of windmills coming up in these areas, although from this year onwards no permission will be granted to install more windmills
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Habitat specialists such as the Lesser Florican are good indicators of the overall health of the landscapes they inhabit. While it is difficult to reach any firm conclusions from a single year's absence, any long-term absence from traditional feeding or breeding grounds could signal a serious problem.