IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


19th April, 2023 Environment

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  • In a first-ever census of mangrove pitta birds carried out in two coastal districts of Odisha, 179 such birds were sighted.

About Mangrove pitta birds

  • They are a nearly threatened species found in few pockets of eastern India, including Odisha’s Bhitarkanika and West Bengal’s Sundarbans.
  • These pittas are monotypic species.
  • The mangrove pitta (P. megarhyncha) is closely related to blue-winged pitta (P. moluccensis) and was considered conspecific with P. moluccensis.


  • Scientific name: Pitta Megarhyncha
  • Kingdom          : Animalia
  • Phylum            : Chordata
  • Class               : Aves
  • Order              : Passeriformes
  • Family             : Pittidae
  • Genus             : Pitta
  • Species           : P. megarhyncha
  • Distribution: India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia
  • Diet and feeding habits: crabs, other crustaceans, molluscs, beetles, ants, termites, insect larvae
  • IUCN status listing: Near Threatened (NT)


  • The mangrove pitta is a small mangrove bird, measuring 18 to 20 cm in length and weighing 90 to 120 grams.
  • The adult mangrove pitta has a grayish brown cap with indistinct thin blackish or gray median stripe.

Origin, geographical range and distribution

  • The mangrove pitta species are distributed in India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
  • In India and Bangladesh they occur in the Sundarban Mangroves. In Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia these species occur on the western coasts.
  • In Sumatra (Indonesia) they are distributed on the eastern coast.

Ecosystem and habitat

  • These species have moderate forest dependence.
  • They normally occur in altitudes from 0 to 100 meters.
  • The natural ecosystems and habitats of these mangrove species include, tropical and subtropical mangrove forests, tropical and subtropical wetlands, rivers, coastal marshlands, streams, creeks and estuaries.

Diet and feeding behavior

  • The diet of these birds consists mainly of molluscs.
  • Crustaceans, crabs, beetles, ants, termites, insect larvae are their primary food.
  • They forage on the mangrove forest floor and take rest in trees and shrubs during high tide.

Migration and movement patterns

  • These mangrove pitta species are non-migratory resident birds.
  • Post breeding, the juveniles may disperse and establish in new locations within the range.

Conservation and survival

  • Mangrove habitat alteration and destruction and development of aquaculture facilities along the coast are the main threats that are endangering the survival of this species.

IUCN and CITES status

  • The mangrove pitta is approaching the thresholds for being Vulnerable under the range size criterion, under the population trend criterion and under the population size criterion.
  • The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the species and has listed it as "Near Threatened".
  • The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for mangrove pitta.

About Bhitarkanika

  • Bhitarkanika, lying in the estuarine region of Brahmani-Baitarani rivers in the North-Eastern corner of Kendrapara district of Odisha, is the second largest viable mangrove eco-system of India.
  • This huge area of mangrove forests and wetland is intersected by a network of creeks with Bay of Bengal on the East.
  • It houses some 215 species of birds, including wetland migrants from central-Asia and Europe, menacing salt water or estuarine crocodiles, and a lot of other fauna species like spotted deer, hyenas, fish cats, leopard cats, and big monitor lizards.
  • Bhitarkanika includes Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary and Bhitarkanika National Park in Odisha.

Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary

  • The Sanctuary, which comprises of mangrove forests with diverse variety of mangrove flora species, has rivers meandering through it making several channels of different dimensions.
  • The Sanctuary was formed to conserve the endangered salt water crocodiles, also called estuarine crocodiles.
  • Besides estuarine Crocodiles, the Sanctuary is rich in avifauna, mammalian and reptilian population.

Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary

  • Stretch of water body from old light house near Batighar to Maipura river mouth was declared as Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary in 1997.
  • This is world’s largest known rookery of Olive Ridley sea turtle.
  • Gahirmatha Sanctuary has a stretch of virgin beach from Barunei mouth to Ekakula.
  • The entire sanctuary area comes within the revenue district of Kendrapara.


Q) How many of the following statements with reference to Mangrove Pitta birds is/are incorrect?

a. These are non-migratory resident birds.

b. They are a critically endangered species as per IUCN list.

c. The mangrove pitta species are distributed in India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Only 3
  4. None of the above

Correct Answer: 1