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Thu 23rd of November 2017


IAS EXPRESS - Free Download

A shrinking home for endemic birds
  • Birds endemic to the biodiverse Western Ghats appear to be in greater danger than they were thought to be, because the range of places they live in may have been overestimated.

  • Researchers from four American universities who analysed range maps used by the influential global authority, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), found that for 17 of 18 bird species, the distribution was smaller than IUCN estimates.

  • The ‘Red List’ classifications of the IUCN serve to guide protection policies; ‘less vulnerable’ species receive a lower conservation focus. The study published in the journal Biological Conservation, argues that IUCN overestimated the habitat of these bird species by up to 88%. Of the 18 species, habitats of 12 were overestimated by over 50%. Under the new model, 10 species could be bumped up on the IUCN scale, for a higher risk. An example is the Malabar grey hornbill which IUCN classifies as ‘Least Concern’ and believes is distributed across 2.3 lakh in Kerala and Karnataka. But when researchers used a spatial modelling technique, they found its range was just 43,060 sq. km, or, nearly 81% less than the estimates. This would put the bird in the ‘Near Threatened’ category. Again, the Nilgiri pipit appears to have lost 88% of its habitat, making it “endangered” rather than “vulnerable”.

  • IUCN uses expert sightings and other records, while the study used land cover, forest type (satellite imagery), temperature, precipitation and ‘citizen science’ using the eBird online birding checklist.




  1. Malabar grey hornbills are only found in the Western Ghat area and their dwindling number shows that the global biodviersity hotspot is in danger due to human intervention.

  2. They are the most beautiful and attractive birds. Goa has different species of hornbills. Malabar grey hornbills were recently found in Keri-Shiroli near Mhadei wildlife sanctuary inside the nest feeding its young ones.

  3. Apart from colour, the Malabar grey hornbills are different from other hornbills in other respects. The Malabar grey hornbill has a large beak without the casque, which is most prominent in other species of hornbills.

  4. Its brownish-grey wings, with a white carpal patch and black primary flight feathers tipped with white colour, can be easily noticed on trees in forested areas. This bird makes a loud, cackling and laughing tocko- tocko- tock' sound.

  5. In areas of Shiroli in Sattari, pairs of Malabar grey hornbills make their nests in holes of Kokam trees (Garcica indica), which are safe and out of reach of predators. Here the bird lays its eggs.

  6. Before laying eggs, the female incarcerates herself within the cavity by sealing its entrance with cement-like substance made from her droppings. The entrance to the nest retains a narrow aperture through which the female usually voids excreta and receives food.

  1. The Nilgiri pipit is closely associated with short montane grasslands interspersed with marshy grounds and small streams mostly in hill slopes above 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) in the Ponmudi hills and above 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) in the Nilgiris, Palani and High Ranges.

  2. They have also been claimed to occur in the Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve but a 2014 study suggests that the species is restricted to the high altitude grassy peaks of the Nilgiris and the Anamalais.

  3. Museum specimens exist from the Palani ranges but habitat changes may have led to its reduction or extirpation as the species was not found in surveys.



Prelims Question of the Day

With reference to 'Natural Rate of Unemployment', consider the following statements.

1. It is the level of unemployment in an economy that is just consistent with a stable rate of Inflation.

2. It is the unemployment that prevails when all markets in the economy are in equilibrium.


(a)1 and 2

(b)2 only

(c)1 only

(d)None of the above

Mains Question of the Day

1.GS-No party in power can afford to ignore Directive Principles of State Policy. Comment.(200 Words)

2.Political Science - Explain the role of non state actors, like IMF, World Bank, European Union and MNCs, in modulating and transforming the broad dynamics of international relations. (250 Words).

3.SOCIOLOGY - What is the impact of Globalization on the structure and mobilization of the working class in India? (250 Words).

Sociology - Thinkers