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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 June 2006, 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK
'Extinct' quail sighted in India
Manipur Bush-Quail  (Photo form Partridges and Grouse by Steve Madge and Phil McGowan)
The bird is renowned for being shy
A quail believed to have been extinct for nearly 80 years has been seen by a prominent ornithologist in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam.

The Manipur Bush-Quail was seen earlier this month by Anwaruddin Choudhury, a wildlife specialist.

Bird experts say that Mr Choudhury is highly respected and that they believe he saw the quail even though he was unable to photograph it.

Experts say the sighting is one of the most exciting in India in recent years.

Territory

"This creature has almost literally returned from the dead," the Wildlife Trust of India's conservation director, Rahul Kaul, told the BBC.

"Although there was always a chance that such a bird could be seen again because of the large expanse of territory it could inhabit in the north-east of India, it's still a very exciting development.

"Now I hope other 'extinct birds' may re-appear, such as the Himalayan Quail - thought to be extinct for 125 years - and the Pink Headed Duck which also had not been seen for a long time," Dr Kaul said.

The grey-and-black streaked quail was spotted by Mr Choudhury in Assam's Manas national park.

This creature has almost literally returned from the dead
Wildlife Trust of India Conservation Director Rahul Kaul

It used to reside extensively in eastern India and what is now Bangladesh.

Correspondents say it was last seen in 1932 in what is now the north-east Indian state of Manipur.

"I'm thrilled to be part of history by sighting this shy little bird after 74 years. It's a rare privilege," Mr Choudhury told the AFP news agency.

"The bird appeared like a flash in front of our jeep and after some time it slowly moved inside the thick undergrowth.

"I knew the moment I saw the bird it was the Manipur Bush-Quail. I've been on the lookout for this species for a very long time."

The 25cm (10-inch) bird was formally identified in Manipur by British civil servant Allan Octavian Hume in 1880 when Britain ruled India.

The bird bred in grassland areas, and was usually seen in small groups of four to 12.




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