For the first time ever, a Houbara Bustard bird was spotted in the Konkan region of Maharashtra. According to the Sindhudurg Forest Department, the bird, suspected to have strayed across the boundary, was found on Friday at the garden of Sanjeevani Babulkar by a farmer of Munage village at Devgad Taluka in Sindhudurg district.
Local Range Forest Officer Rajendra Ghunakikar on Saturday said, "The farmer spotted an exotic-looking bird with a ring on its leg on Thursday evening and alerted forest officials. We then took it in our custody."
The bird is currently kept in a facility at Kankavali in the district and is in fine health, he added.
“It was the first time that we ever saw this bird. Even for the veterinary doctors, this was a first. With the help of experts we were able to identify the breed. The tag around its leg indicated that it was tagged by National Avian Resource Centre in Abu Dhabi,” Navkishore Reddy, Deputy Conservator Forest (DCF), Sindhudurg, said.
The bird is native to North Africa and Arabian Peninsula. It generally migrates to the Pakistan area from the Rajasthan and Gujarat deserts. “Due to exhaustion, it is not able to fly but physically appears unharmed. Its natural habitat is that of the dry area found at Rajasthan and Gujarat. Hence we would be soon handing it over to Rajasthan forest department,” Reddy said.
Sujit Narawade, the assistant director and coordinator at the Bombay Natural History Society, said some institutes in the UAE breed these birds in captivity and release them in large numbers as part of conservation efforts. "These birds generallymigrate to the Thar and Kutch deserts every winter from the Middle-East. Sometimes a bird or two stray from the flock and fly to the coastal region of Konkan," said Narawade, who is also the project coordinator Conservation of Great Indian Bustard and Lesser Florican.
"When we contacted the NARC in Abu Dhabi, they confirmed that the bird was from a flock released by them," he said.
(With PTI inputs)