Weekly Current Affairs

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Kerala’s avian diversity gets richer

  • The avian species diversity of Kerala got a boost in the last days of 2016 with BirdLife International dividing a species in two.
  • BirdLife International, an organisation which assesses the conservation status of birds globally, has split group of montane laughing thrushes, which are endemic to the Western Ghats, and recognised them as two new species.
  • As a result, Kerala now has four mountain laughing thrushes in place of two.
  • The newly accepted species are Banasura laughingthrush (Trochalopteron jerdoni), which has a very restricted distribution in Wayanad district and Travancore laughingthrush (Trochalopteron merdionale) found in Thiruvananthapuram district.
  • While the conservation status of the Banasura species was assessed as endangered, the Travancore variety was considered vulnerable, considering the risk the species were facing.
  • The two original species of the family were Nilgiri laughingthrush and Palani laughingthrush.
  • The Nilgiri species, assessed as an endangered one, is found in Silent Valley National Park and Siruvani hills of Kerala.
  • The near-threatened Palani laughingthrush is found mainly in Munnar hills and the mountains of Periyar Tiger Reserve apart from Grass Hills and Palani hills in Tamil Nadu.
  • Laughingthrushes are found only in the peaks of Western Ghats, popularly known as sky islands.
  • These mountain peaks are separated from the others so well that the birds from one sky island find difficult to move to the next sky island.
  • This has resulted in the creation of four closely related species, each of them occupying a series of mountain tops across the entire range of southern Western Ghats.