Mandarin Duck Returns To Assam’s Tinsukia After a Century

The Mandarin duck that visited Tinsukia on February 8, 2021. Picture: Madhab Gogoi.

Chandigarh: On February 8, Madhab Gogoi, a bird-watching information in Maguri-Motapung beel (wetland) in Tinsukia district, Assam, was merely alert as normal – and that’s how he noticed the uncommon, and luxurious, Mandarin duck. His pictures of this vibrant hen have since gone viral on the web.

“I used to be on my common go to to the Maguri-Motapung beel to take a look at the birds within the environment after I occurred to note this very vibrant duck floating on the floor,” Gogoi informed The Wire Science. “Upon a more in-depth look, I realised that it was the uncommon Mandarin duck. I couldn’t consider my eyes, and it took me a while to register” its presence.

As soon as he was in a position to ensure, Gogoi rang a good friend of his, a photographer, who rushed to the positioning and captured the photographs.

In line with the eBird database, a male Mandarin duck (Aix galericulata) is “very ornate with massive orangey ‘sail fins’ on the again, streaked orangey cheeks and a small purple invoice with a whitish tip”. The feminine has “slender white spectacles on a shaggy gray head, daring pale dappled spots alongside flanks and a pale invoice tip.”

Gogoi additionally mentioned he had knowledgeable all avid birders and wildlife photographers he knew within the space, and the place was quickly filled with folks eager to get their very own images. “The hen was floating calmly, doing its normal stuff, consuming and resting at one explicit spot for 3 days, oblivious of the curious eyes at far.”

It proved to be a short-lived spectacle, nevertheless: “the hen was final seen on the night of February 10 and flew away someday within the evening,” Gogoi mentioned.

Ornithologist Anwaruddin Choudhury, a former joint secretary of the forest division and a member of the state wildlife advisory board, mentioned {that a} Mandarin duck was final noticed on the Dibru river in Tinsukia in 1902.

“It was a British official who shot down one Mandarin duck in a flock of 5 to 6 birds in Dibru river,” Choudhury mentioned. “He would show shot birds in his museum. That is the final document of the hen we’ve got in the identical space.”

In line with him, bird-watchers had additionally noticed a Mandarin duck a handful of instances within the Loktak lake in Manipur in 2013 and in Saatvoini beel in Assam’s Manas Nationwide Park in 2014.

Choudhury mentioned the Mandarin duck isn’t listed as being ‘endangered’ or ‘weak’ on the IUCN Pink Checklist, so there was no should be involved overmuch about their populations.

“It appears the hen strayed from its common migratory bathtub,” he added. “They breed in Russia, Korea, Japan and the northeastern components of China – because the identify Mandarin additionally suggests. The species can also be present in Western Europe and the US.”

Sanjay Sondhi, a hen and butterfly professional, agreed that it isn’t “unusual for migratory birds to stray from their flight routes. For instance, geese like widespread goldeneyes and Baer’s pochards have been noticed a couple of instances within the Asan Conservation Reserve in Uttarakhand.”

Nonetheless, Sondhi additionally mentioned there haven’t been any research on how these birds rejoin their flocks and attain their initially meant vacation spot.

Conservationists like Gogoi are additionally heartened by the truth that distressing pictures like that of the Gangetic dolphin charred by hearth from the Baghjan blowout in Might 2020 have been changed by one thing as refreshing because the Mandarin duck. To him, it’s an indication of nature discovering a option to restore itself, and which must be helped alongside.

“The recurrent floods through the monsoon season cleared lots of the deposited oil within the Maguri-Motapung beel, though there may be nonetheless some oil embedded deep within the soil,” Gogoi mentioned.” That is the explanation many species like hornbills and butterflies are now not seen within the space. The native farmers are additionally not in a position to domesticate their land.”

Quite a lot of environmentalists and wildlife lovers from throughout the nation have protested Oil India Restricted’s plans within the space. Even because the Baghjan blowout hearth raged, for instance, the corporate introduced its intention to drill for oil on the fringe of the Dibru Saikhowa Nationwide Park, which is simply north of Tinsukia.

The wetland and the nationwide park kind a joint ecosystem that homes over 300 avian species, together with eight listed as being ‘threatened’ on the IUCN Pink Checklist.

Seema Sharma is a Chandigarh-based unbiased journalist. She beforehand labored at The Tribune and The Instances of India. She writes on forest, wildlife, setting, social and rural points.

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