The 64 new fern species spotted included the rare Polystichum polyodon, which is endemic to the state. Credit: EastMojo

Itanagar: A rare bird and 64 new fern species were spotted during a recent three-day expedition and cleanliness drive at Tale Wildlife Sanctuary in Lower Subansiri district.

The expedition organised by the Hapoli forest division of the district in collaboration with Ngunu Ziro, a local NGO working on conservation, concluded on February 13, district officials said.

The 64 new fern species spotted included the rare Polystichum Polyodon, which is endemic to the state.

Ashish Soni, a researcher from Botanical Survey of India (BSI) currently studying fern species found in Lower Subansiri district, helped in the identification of the new species.

Soni was also part of the expedition team.

A rare species of bird, the Eurasian Woodcock, which was hitherto never spotted in the Tale Wildlife Sanctuary, was also photographed by Koj Mama of Ngunu Ziro during the expedition.

The Eurasian Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) is a medium-small wading bird found in temperate and subarctic Eurasia. It has cryptic camouflage to suit its woodland habitat, with reddish-brown upperparts and buff-coloured underparts. The Asian population of the species is known to migrate to the Himalayas. The bird is mostly active at dusk and dawn.

Tale Valley is one of the most diverse biodiversity spots in the state with astounding species diversity of butterflies, birds, orchids, rhododendrons, ferns and rare medicinal herbs.

The area is also revered in Apatani folklore as a place where the first men and women from the tribe had settled before finally migrating to the Ziro Valley.

The expedition included cleaning of the Pange river bank which borders the sanctuary.

The cleanliness drive was inaugurated by Lower Subansiri Deputy Commissioner Swetika Sachan at Pange Camp in the presence of the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Abhinav Kumar, Extra Assistant Commissioner Bamin Tarang, the sanctuary’s Range Forest Officer Ngilyang Tachang and members of Ngunu Ziro on February 11, the officials said.

The DC advised the forest department to install dustbins along the banks of the Pange River to minimise littering of plastic and other non-biodegradable items left over by the visitors to the area.

The DFO acknowledged the problem of littering in the area and said that plans are underway to regulate the entry of single-use plastics in the sanctuary area in collaboration with an Eco-Development Committee comprising local land donors.

He further said dustbins would be shortly installed along the Pange River and fines would be imposed on visitors who resort to littering in the area.

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