ZSI Scientists discovers new species of bird from Great Nicobar Island

A team of scientists of Zoological Survey of India here are presently
inventorizing the fauna communities of Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve
(GNBR) under the man and biosphere programme of UNESCO with the
sponsorship of Ministry of Environment and Forests, GoI. The GNBR is one
the 17 biosphere reserves designed in India. The results of the recent
survey conducted by ZSI in GNBR discovered a new species of bird Rallina
(Water Rail or Crake). For the convenience of the future study, this
species has been named as `Great Nicobar Crake’.

Scientists said that, the species under Rallina is a very
rare and data deficient group of bird, according to IUCN status. So far
8 species under the genus Rallina have been reported from Australian and
Asian continents. Among them 3 species were sighted from India including
A&N Islands of which Andaman Crake Rallina canningi is endemic to Andaman.

Presently discovered Rallina is fast running and flightless bird found
near water bodies. The bill is rather thick and short, neck moderately
long, legs rather heavy with moderate length toes and short claws, and
the tail fairly short. The plumage is generally rich rufescent, the back
browner, the wing-coverts narrowly black and white barred, the under
parts below breast with broad black and narrow white bands, and the
thighs very narrowly barred, appearing blackish. The iris is bright red,
fleshy eye-ring orange-red; bill entirely very pale green except for
slightly reddish-tinged tip, tarsi bright orange-red with duskier claws.
No other species of Rallina has a combination of pale green bill,
broadly black banded under parts, and heavy orange-red legs.

Presently discovered bird not only enhances the total number of bird
species reported from Andaman and Nicobar Islands but also at global
level. This discovery has been published in the journal BirdingASIA
Vol.17 (2012): 44-46 (authored by S. Rajesh Kumar, C. Raghunathan and
P.C. Rasmusssen), according to a communication received from ZSI.

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