Ruddy shelduck breeds in Arunachal Pradesh

Experts spy ruddy ducks in Arunachal
- Rare sight captured
Guwahati, Aug. 19: It took them three years of dexterous voyeurism to catch the pair mating.
It was a thrilling sight, the wildlife experts admitted, to watch ruddy shelduck, a winter visitor to Arunachal Pradesh, use the high-altitude ground to breed.
Seven ducklings quacked excitedly in the Tsomgo Ama wetland of West Kameng district and the WWF-India team got their precious first ever photographic documentation of a breeding pair of ruddy shelducks, a member of the duck, goose and swan family of Anatidae.
Though the presence of ruddy shelduck (tadorna ferruginea), was known, there was no information on the breeding of this species in the high-altitude wetlands of the state.
“I was trying to document the presence of the breeding pair of this species for the last three years when I first started working on this landscape in early 2008. It took me almost three years to come across this sight and I was simply delighted,” Kripaljyoti Mazumdar, project officer, Western Arunachal Landscape Programme, WWF-India, told The Telegraph.
The wetland, situated at a height of nearly 14,900 feet, covers .27 square km of the Thembang Bapu community conserved area wetland complex.
In India, eastern Ladakh and Sikkim are the only two familiar high altitude-breeding sites of this species, besides a few sites in Nepal and Bhutan.
“As many migratory birds from the nearby plains of Assam breed in these high-altitude lakes during summer, it is extremely important to know their population trend. A proper long-term monitoring and conservation initiative is needed to come up with new information and data. Regular checks on the population fluctuation along with the breeding ecology will help in understanding the distribution status of this species in the high-altitude regions of Arunachal Pradesh,” Mazumdar said.
Most of these wetland areas are used as traditional grazing grounds and are under the ownership of the local indigenous community of western Arunachal Pradesh.
Since the breeding period of these birds overlaps with summer grazing, it is important to educate livestock grazers on ways to help these birds during the breeding period.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, the ruddy shelduck has a very large population, and hence does not qualify for the vulnerable category.
It has been classified under the “least concern” category, as it does not qualify for the “critically endangered”, “endangered”, “vulnerable” or “near threatened” categories.
The WWF team came across the rare sight of the ducks breeding while working under the banner Saving Wetland Sky High in the western parts of Arunachal Pradesh, covering West Kameng and Tawang districts.
“The high-altitude wetlands of western Arunachal Pradesh, like many other high-altitude wetlands of the country, are under tremendous threat. Increasing grazing pressure in the catchment areas of the wetlands, over-exploitation of forest resources, unregulated dumping of waste, unregulated tourism leading to soil and water pollution, construction and other development activities are some of the major threats,” he said.


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