Genomic Resource Bank is part of Rare and Endangered Bird Species Conservation Plan in Delhi-NCR
Delhi NCR authorities plan to develop breeding and conservation methods for some rare, endangered and threatened (RET) bird species using surrogate species, and create a resource bank for them state-of-the-art genomics.
The Genomic Resource Bank is the storage of reproductive cells and embryos of endangered species with the intention of using them in breeding programs in the future.
A draft action plan has been prepared by the Salim Ali Center of Ornithology and Natural History (SACON) for the conservation of avian diversity, their ecosystems, habitats and landscapes in Delhi NCR over the past 10 coming years.
The Delhi NCR action plan is part of a larger plan that covers 17 states in five zones – north, south, east, west and central. It was shared with the Delhi Forestry and Wildlife Department last month.
The Delhi NCR accounts for almost a third of the total number of bird species found in India. Of the 446 bird species reported in the region since 1970, sixty-three are considered rare, endangered, and threatened (RET).
Studies of wetland birds, including 20 RET species, have highlighted numerous conservation issues, including high pollution load and stunted flow in the Yamuna, and encroachment on bird habitats under the shape of buildings, etc.
SACON, together with the Forestry and Wildlife Departments of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, will study possible threats to RET species, assess conservation measures needed to restore their populations and reintroduce them to their original habitats, if necessary.
The draft plan emphasizes “the development of methods for the breeding and conservation of selected RET bird species using surrogate species and a state-of-the-art genomic resource bank.” technology for the cryobank of viable biomaterials of RET bird species”.
Whole-genome sequences of some RET bird species will be generated in the long term, he said.
“Species Recovery Plans” will be prepared for RET species such as the American bird, sarus crane, Indian skimmer, black-bellied tern, white-rumped vulture, Egyptian vulture, steppe eagle and fish eagle.
SACON and state authorities will also examine the impact of pesticides and rodenticides on avian diversity in certain production landscapes.
Production landscapes are unprotected areas where economic activities such as agriculture, livestock grazing, forestry or fishing take place.
Authorities will identify and assess bird-human conflicts at the landscape level with respect to livelihoods and socio-economic issues to assess the particular threats to the target bird species.
They will also assess and prioritize key staging and wintering habitats in wetlands for the conservation of migratory birds.
The impacts of major development sectors such as power and transmission, linear projects including road, rail and highways, mining, industry, infrastructure, construction and real estate on Avian diversity will be assessed and effective management strategies will be developed, the draft plan says. .
A key step will be to assess the extent of the illegal bird trade in Delhi NCR and identify sources, transit and market hotspots.
Local birdwatching organizations will be involved to carry out a bird count in the main urban agglomerations and assess the population status of urban avifauna. Subsequently, a “Bird Atlas” will be developed.
The wildlife diversity of Delhi NCR is mainly found in Delhi Ridge, Sultanpur National Park, Okhla Bird Sanctuary, Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary, Hauz Khas Deer Park, Mangar Bani ( sacred grove), protected and unprotected river reservoirs and wetlands like Okhla dam, Najafgarh jheel, Basai wetlands, Damdama lake and Badkhal lake.
Common resident bird species found here are the Little Cormorant, Egret, Gray Francolin, Boilermaker’s Barbet, Alexandrine Parakeet, Spotted Owl, Spotted Dove, Jungle Prinia, red-whiskered bulbul and rock dove.
Migratory bird species like great spotted eagle, rusty duck, greylag geese, bar-headed geese, green-winged teal, shoveller, wigeon, coot and species with local movements like the painted stork, woolly-necked stork, river lapwing, black-headed ibis, and oriental darter are found in the NCR.
The red-headed vulture, a critically endangered species, was recently spotted in the area.