New Bird and Otter species Sighted at Thrumshingla National Park

Asian Small-Clawed Otter Aonyx cinerea- (1)
Asian Small-Clawed Otter Aonyx cinerea- (1)

Recently, the Central Park Range office located in Lingmethang sighted an Asian Small-clawed Otter or Oriental Small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinerea) and Barred Buttonquail (Turnix suscitator) in the south-east of the park area. The smallest otter in the world Asian Small-clawed Otter under Mustelidae family is a new record thus making two Otter species for the park including Common Otter (Lutra lutra ). It is evaluated as “Vulnerable” under the Red List of Threatened species (IUCN, 2014) and Appendix II (CITES) due to habitat destruction and reduction in its prey-biomass owing to over exploitation and pollution (http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44166/0) as reported from India.

Asian Small-Clawed Otter Aonyx cinerea- (2)
Asian Small-Clawed Otter Aonyx cinerea- (2)

In Bhutan, Wangchuk et al. (2004) reported that it can be seen along lower parts of Manas and Sankosh. In the Thrumshingla National Park the otter was found being placed in an enclosure by a farmer who caught it from the agriculture field located by the side of a stream called Morichu in Saling Geog under Mongar Dzongkhag. Its paws are a distinctive feature, its claws not extending beyond the fleshy end pads of its partially webbed fingers and toes (Wikipedia, 2014). The literature says that this otter is found in irrigated rice fields and wander between patches of reeds and river debris and spend most of the its time on land unlike most other Otters. However, the Otter was released into the Morichhu and is being monitored.

A dead female Barred Buttonquail (Turnix suscitator) sighted in the dry Chirpine forest area by the staffs of Central Range office in Lingmethang (630m) confirms its presence in the park which was sighted once in 2004 by Sherub (Ornithologist) and team from UWICE in the same forest area. This particular bird species was not included in the annotated bird check list of the park in the past as the listing was concentrated exclusively within the park boundary.

The Barred Buttonquail
The Barred Buttonquail

Though the recent sighting location is on the buffer zone which is under administrative jurisdiction of the park we consider it to be a new record of Buttonquail species classified under Order- Turniciformes and Family-Turnidae to the total of 361 thus making it 362 bird species thus far. Barred Buttonquail is listed as Least Concern on IUCN Red List of threatened species. It is known to be resident in Bhutan and recorded only in Samtse (Inskipp, C., Inskipp, T., & Grimmet, 1999) at an elevation of 610m. In the Asian region it is said to be resident in India across tropical Asia to South China, Indonesia and Philippines.

– Submitted by Ugyen Namgyel, Thrumshingla National Park, Ura

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