Hotspots of Biodiversity

September 20, 2006 at 2:05 pm | Posted in "new species", biodiversity, bird, Bugun, liocichla, Stott | 2 Comments

The recent discovery of a completely new species of bird from the remote Arunachal Pradesh (Himalayan foothills) in India reminds us that where man has not interfered much, the wilderness still can thrive.

Bugun liocichla is colourful. Initially it was mistaken for a Chinese species, the Omei Shan Liocichla, and it was assumed that a different race of that species had survived in a pocket over a 1000 km South of its known range.

Now that would be very unusual. The other possibility, that the species had spread South from the Shan would be even stranger!

With the world warming rapidly we are seeing the opposite! Temperate species are creeping North as the winters become milder while tropical creatures are extending their ranges. The nightmare for medical authorities in temperate countries is that very soon, tropically transmitted diseases, such as Malaria and Dengue will be commonplace in North America and Europe. The reason being that their vector – the mosquito – is already establishing populations much further North than ever before – simply because winter has become so much milder. In fact, the trend is so pronounced that the hottest specialty in medical colleges is now…Tropical Medicine!

Getting back to Bugun, the new species has coexisted with a small tribe of the West Kameng district, quite naturally called the Bugun (or Khova) and hence the new name.

We have a common, noisy and gregarious cousin of this rare “babbler” in my area and we call that “the seven sisters” as they are always found in hyperactive bunches.

My own fascination for birds bloomed very late and I have to thank many people for having introduced me to the “world of birding”not least of whom is the amazing Dr. John R.W. Stott

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