The white-winged wood duck is popularly known as Deo-Hah in the state of Assam because of its ghostly calls. Declared as the state bird of Assam in 2003, sadly its conservation situation has not improved in recent years. On the contrary, the bird may become extinct if the conservation efforts continue to delve into a darker pit.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the white-winged wood duck (Asarcornis scutulata) as endangered since 1994.
Only 800 individuals of this species are thought to be left in the wild, with 450 of them known to exist in India. This species is only found in the northeastern states of India.
Talking exclusively to IndiaTodayNE, Jaydev Mandal, an ornithologist said, ‘the situation is not as promising as we had hoped. We only saw a few birds in Nameri and the surrounding areas of Dehing Patkai and Namdapha. Assamese state bird’s habitat could disappear in the next 50 years if it continues like this. The decline in bird population has been attributed primarily to the loss of forest cover, particularly near water sources”.
“Since climate change has already had an impact on many tropical forest areas, the habitats of the white-winged wood duck are now threatened by changes in temperature and precipitation but we can’t blame the climate change only regarding this extinction of white-winged wood duck”, he added.
A recent study to assess the impacts of climate change and the potential distribution of the white-winged wood duck in the Indian Eastern Himalayan (IEH) region for the 2050s and 2070s revealed that the species would lose 436.61 square kilometres of highly potential habitat by 2070.
Under future climate scenarios, the study predicts a decline in potential habitat in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya, and Tripura. The researchers discovered that changes in precipitation patterns during the wettest months (June to September), combined with a decrease in precipitation during the warmest quarter (October to December), would lead to further habitat loss. Furthermore, by 2070, the temperature rise would result in the extinction of many potential habitats in Tripura and Nagaland.
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