The Bugun tribe of Arunachal Pradesh is doing everything it can to preserve a rare bird species called the Bugun liocichla. By Tanvi Jain

 

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Singchung Bugun Village Community Reserve of Arunachal Pradesh, built by the state’s Bugun tribe, along with forest officials and researchers, is preserving a rare bird species called the Bugun liocichla (Liocichla bugunorum).   

Report about the existence of this species found in Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh, was first published in the journal Indian Birds (Vol 2, No 4, July-August 2006). As per the journal, Liocichlas are an Asian babbler genus hitherto comprising three allopatric species — Red-faced Liocichla, Emei Shan Liocichla, and Steere’s Liocichla. 

 

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Reports further suggest, that Bugun liocichla was first spotted back in 1995 by astronomer Ramana Athreya from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune, and again in 2005. He then named it after the Bugun tribe that lives nearby. Since then, he has been working with the Bugun’s to set up ecotourism projects. Later the villagers decided to turn 17 kilometres of their land into a community reserve, and it was in January 2017 that the Singchung Bugun Village Community Reserve was set up. 

 

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The liocichlas, which belong to the babblers’ family, have cousins across central China as well. This discovery of Bugun liocichla brought Eaglenest to the list of some of the top-ranked birding spots for researchers and wildlife photographers. Approximately 500 different bird species have been spotted here. The place is home to birds like nuthatch, Ward’s trogon, red-headed trogon, slender-billed scimitar babbler, wren babblers, flycatchers, and some rare ones like the grey peacock pheasant, Blyth’s tragopan, and Temminck’s tragopan. 

 

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Apart from birds, animals such as gaur, elephants, barking deer, wild dogs, Himalayan serow, red pandas, leopard cats, Himalayan bears, Bhutan giant flying squirrels, arrow-tailed flying squirrels, the slow loris, and Arunachal macaque, can also be found here. 

As far as flora is concerned, Eaglenest, which has extensive bamboo cover, is also one of the last strong-holds for species such as the Asian yew (Taxus wallichiana) and the Anise tree (Illicium griffithii). It’s also home to critically endangered Gymnocladus assamicus, which is endemic to north-eastern India.  

Related: Explore The Virgin Valleys Of Arunachal Pradesh This Summer