Greater flamingo spotted in Chitwan National Park, after two decades

KATHMANDU: Greater Flamingo, scientifically named as phoenicopterus ruber, has recently been recorded in the country after 18 years in the Chitwan National Park (CNP).

“The bird was first recorded in Kathmandu in mid 19th century. Secondly, it was spotted at the Koshi Barrage during the winter of 1973 and thirdly in the Koshi river in 1992. Lately, the bird appeared in the CNP, for the first time in the conservation area,” said Dr Hem Sagar Baral, an ornithologist with the Himalayan Nature.

The bird was identified by Hem Subedi, a member of Nepal Rare Birds Committee and the chief advisor of Bird Education Society. “The bird was found alone, suggesting that it could have lost its way or may have made an sporadic movement, which some birds do occasionally,” added Baral.

Nepal Rare Birds Committee is the official body in Nepal that verifies the authenticity of bird records in the nation. Bird Education Society (BES), in cooperation with CNP and National Trust for Nature Conservation, took special efforts to minimise the disturbance to this unusual visitor in the park. The BES is said to have conducted a close surveillance on the bird by sending three groups of scouts to check its status. The Society said the total number of birds found in the CNP and surrounding areas has now reached 864 species.

The bird recorded in Chitwan was of ‘roseus’ type and a sub adult. Of the five flamingo species found in the world, it is the largest and males of which weigh more than four kilograms. According to Baral, South America is known for greater varieties of Flamingo and in South Asia, only two varieties of the bird are found. This bird is found in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan in South Asia. It is also found in South-Central America, Southern Europe, Central Asia and Africa.