STATUS AND DISTRIBUTION OF MALABAR PIED HORNBILL ANTHRACOCEROS CORONATUS IN MELGHAT TIGER RESERVE, MAHARASHTRA
The Malabar Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros coronatus is endemic to the Indian subcontinent and listed as a Near Threatened bird species. It was first time reported in 2003 in Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR) from Central India. MTR is an important forest area in the central part of the Satpudas. As per the sighting records of A. coronatus in MTR from 2003 to 2013, it seems that the bird species was established well in this area. But actual status and distribution of the species in the study area was not known. Also, the research work and published materials on the status and distribution of Malabar Pied Hornbill from MTR was lacking. So with these ‘key thoughts’, we had started work on Malabar Pied Hornbill in MTR and here in this paper, the current status and distribution of the Malabar Pied Hornbill from MTR was evaluated. To understand the status and distribution of Malabar Pied Hornbill in MTR more than 30 visits were undertaken from January 2010 to January 2013 to various parts of the MTR. Point transects were primarily conducted to monitor population of Malabar Pied Hornbill in MTR. The number of Malabar Pied Hornbills recorded in Melghat Tiger Reserve in the year 2010, 2011 and 2012 as were 27, 21 and 24 respectively. Most of the sightings of hornbills were recorded from core area and only few birds were sighted outside the core area. In MTR, total ten fruit plant species were recorded as a preferred food by Malabar Pied Hornbill. No poaching or illegal killing, no natural predators were observed. But continuous tree felling by locals in buffer zones for agricultural expansion, intentional forest fires, old trees falling by heavy rains and storms were recorded to be the major threats to the habitat of A. coronatus.