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Monday, July 30

Great Nicobar Crake, a new bird discovered from Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India

Scientists at the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) have discovered a new bird species from the Andaman and Nicobar islands of India. The bird which is now named as Great Nicobar Crake is an unreported member of the Rallina species of birds which are usually called Water Rails or Crakes.

Great Nicobar Crake, new bird from India, Andaman birds, nicobar birds
Photos of Great Nicobar Crake published by the journal
The discovery is published in the latest edition of the journal Birding Asia, according to which, the bird was seen at Govind Nagar tsunami shelter on the east coast of Great Nicobar, 6 km from Campbell Bay during November last year. 

According to scientists, the Water Crakes or the Rallina species of birds are very rare and only 8 species are known so far. IUCN considers these birds as data deficient since their rarity makes it difficult to compile data on these birds. 

Birds of Rallina species are found in Australia and Asia and 3 are seen in India. Among the three, Andaman Crake (Rallina canningi) which is found in Andaman and Nicobar Islands are endemic and is included under the Near Threatened category. As the report of the new bird is now limited only to Andaman and Nicobar islands, it is highly likely that Great Nicobar Crake is also endemic to the islands.

According to the paper titled "An apparently new species of Rallina crake from Great Nicobar Island, Indiapublished by   S. Rajesh Kumar, C. Raghunathan and P.C. Rasmusssen of ZSI, Great Nicobar Crake cannot fly but can run fast. Usually found near water bodies, Great Nicobar Crake is a thick and short bird, with heavy legs and moderately longer toes and short claws. It has moderately long neck and a short tail. 

The presence of pale green bill, heavy orange-red legs and black banded under parts together makes it different from other known members of Water Crakes.

The discovery was made as part of an ongoing ZSI attempt to map the fauna communities of Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve (GNBR). The project is being carried out under the man and biosphere programme of UNESCO with the sponsorship of Ministry of Environment and Forests. 

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