The Bengal florican, also known as the Bengal bustard, is an extremely rare, critically endangered species of bird. Unfortunately, relatively few people are aware of the Bengal bustard’s existence; the endangered species spotlight often shines unfairly on more charismatic animals such as pandas and tigers. The Bengal florican’s only chance for survival will come from public awareness and active conservation measures.
Here are ten fact about the Bengal florican.
1. There may be as few as 500 Bengal floricans still surviving. It’s more likely than not that the species will be extinct within the next 15 years, unless drastic conservation measures are taken.
2. Bengal floricans tend to be very quiet unless disturbed. An upset Bengal florican will make a metallic “chick-chick-chick” sound. When displaying for a potential mate, males produce an odd-sounding, deep hum.
3. The Bengal florican’s current habitat is restricted to small fragments of grassland in South Asia. It used to inhabit open grasslands across a very large habitat range.
4. The most significant threat to the Bengal florican is the conversion of wild grassland into agricultural fields, particularly for dry-season rice production. This form of habitat conversion continues at a rapid, alarming rate and threatens the species’ survival.
5. The decline of the species has accelerated dramatically between 2000 and 2010. Conservationists anticipate the species’ total extinction within one to two decades unless drastic measures are taken to protect its habitat.
6. It may be possible for the Bengal florican to thrive alongside humans. The species’ beautiful courtship display may bring a small but lucrative form of eco-tourism to the area, providing locals with sustainable income so that they do not have to destroy the animal’s habitat to survive.
7. Conservationists are encouraging people who live in the Bengal florican’s natural habitat to gather firewood from grasslands. By cutting trees in fields rather than forests, the people open viable nesting-ground for the florican.
8. Sugarcane is a primary source of nutrition for the Bengal florican. Wild-growing and cultivated sugarcanes help to give the bird energy and long-term nourishment.
9. Young Bengal floricans look similar to the lesser florican, a related species. This could have contributed to mis-countings by inadequately trained biologists.
10. More than 85% of the remaining Bengal florican population lives in India. Its historic range spread into Cambodia, Nepal and Vietnam. Although once relatively common in Bangladesh, the Bengal florican no longer lives in that region.
Visit the IUCN red list for more information about the Bengal florican.