The Gujarat forest service has reintroduced Indian grey hornbills (IGHs) to Gir forest, over ninety years after they vanished from western India’s largest contiguous forest tract.

According to Mohan Ram, Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF) of Sasan wildlife division and superintendent of Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (GNPWL), the forest department has released 20 IGHs in Gir forest in three batches in recent months after trapping and capturing them from the northern parts of the state where they are resident birds.

Last year, the first four hornbills were released on October 28th, followed by the second batch of five birds on December 27th, according to Ram. On the birth anniversary of late naturalist Lavkumar Khachar, the third batch of 11 hornbills was released in Gir National Park on Thursday (February 24, 2022).

The reintroduction attempt comes a year after an IGH was spotted near Amreli’s Pipavav port. IGH sightings have been reported from Bhavnagar in recent years, as well as one in Mendarda in the Junagadh district of the Gir (west) wildlife division in 2013.

“Reintroducing the IGH in Gir was advised by eminent ornithologist Late R. S. Dharmakumarsinhji since they play such an important part in the forest environment,” the sanctuary superintendent stated.

This is the second attempt to reintroduce IGHs in the Devalia park, which spans the districts of Junagadh, Gir Somnath, and Amreli in Gujarat’s Saurashtra region and is the last known home of lions outside of Africa. “In 1980, the forest department freed 30 hornbills in the Kankai and Chhodvadi areas, but that attempt to reestablish this type of woodland birds was unsuccessful,” said Uday Vora, a retired IFS officer and noted Gujarat birdwatcher. Shyamal Tikadar, Gujarat’s principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) and chief wildlife warden, expressed optimism that the project will improve the Gir ecosystem’s diversity.

Following the success of the previous two batches, the third batch of 11 hornbills was released in the Gir forest, according to am. “The data acquired from the transmitters in the Gir Hi-Tech Monitoring Unit, Sasan-Gir, was used to keep track of the released birds on a regular basis. “The birds were discovered to be wandering around in the Gir terrain in a regular manner,” Ram stated.

The Sasan wildlife division has so far satellite-tagged 15 species of birds and is using the data collected by those tags to study their travel patterns and ecology. Visit our website online for Sasan gir jungle safari in advance.


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