Imphal, Nov. 11: The discovery of a male nongin (Mrs Hume’s barbacked pheasant), the state bird of Manipur, in the valley for the first time has brought cheers for wildlife wing officials of the state forest department and plans are under way to conduct a survey on the bird.
Residents of Pumlen, a part of the Loktak lake in Bishnupur district, caught a male nongin recently and Congress MLA and chairman of Manipur Pollution Control Board, E. Dwijamani, rescued the rare bird by paying Rs 1,000.
Dwijamani brought the bird to the Manipur zoological garden at Eroisemba in Imphal West and handed it over to the officials today.
Wildlife officials knew the bird visited the Rajui jungles of Jessami in Ukhrul district, near the Manipur-Nagaland border, but did not know it was also found in the valley till today.
The officials had carried out a survey in the hill district of Ukhrul a few years ago after villagers caught the bird from the jungles.
The forest department has so far collected 14 nongins by encouraging villagers not to kill the bird.
The zoological garden, 6km from Imphal city, has one male and two females while the captive breeding place located near the zoo has 11 nongins.
Zoo officials said two chicks were bred in captivity recently.
With the new arrival, the number of nongins under the care of the wildlife wing has gone up to 17.
Nongin comes under Schedule 1 and is categorised as one of the most threatened bird species in the world.
“There is no exact official record when a nongin was last sighted in Manipur, till it was found in the Ukhrul jungles some years back. It is an extremely rare bird. This is the first time that the bird as been found in the valley,” S. Dhananjoy, director of the zoo, said.
The official said a survey would be carried out in the valley, including the Loktak lake, to find out habitats of the bird, if any.
“Though students learn about the nongin from school textbooks, they never see it physically, barring those in the zoo. So I decided to buy the nongin from some Pumlen residents and brought it to the zoo,” Dwijamani said.
The state wildlife wing has submitted a proposal to the Central Zoo Authority for expansion of the only zoo in the state, including construction of a better place for the state bird.