Sighting trend of the Indian Skimmer (Charidiformes: Laridae: Rynchops albicollis Swainson, 1838) in National Chambal Gharial Sanctuary (1984–2016) reflecting on the feasibility of long-term ecological monitoring

Main Article Content

L. A.K. Singh
R. K. Sharma


River Chambal, in northwestern India, is a tributary of the Gangetic River system.  It flows through the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh (MP) and Uttar Pradesh (UP), and the National Chambal Gharial Sanctuary (NCGS) encompasses a 572km stretch of the river from Keshoraipatan in Rajasthan to Pachhnada in UP.  The sanctuary includes about 15km of river Yamuna after confluence with Chambal.  During annual monitoring of Gharial in Chambal the Indian Skimmer, Rhynchops albicollis numbers were also counted in 12 study zones for 17 observation years spread between 1984–85 and 2015–16.  The number of skimmers was below 355 for 15 of the 17 observation years.  Skimmer counts were higher in 1995 at 555 individuals.  The count for different study zones is not uniform, but with reference to Rajghat at the crossing of National Highway number-3, the count upstream is lower than downstream with an exception in the year 2011.  The river downstream appears to be a better skimmer habitat with better availability of fish, and long stretches of flowing water along low-lying sandy banks.  The study calls for continued, coordinated and strengthened attention to NCGS for added conservation of locally migrating birds.  The research and management connect in NCGS is a model where long term ecological monitoring has been possible because of simple and implementable protocols that were used unchanged over such a long period by a set of identified field personnel. 

Article Details

Author Biography

L. A.K. Singh

Puspaswini, 1830-Mahatab Road, Old Town, Bhubaneswar 751002, Odisha, India,


Ali, S. (2002). The Book of Indian Birds. Thirteenth Edition Revised. Bombay Natural History Society, Oxford University Press.

BirdLife International (2017). Rynchops albicollis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22694268A110600990.

Debata, S., T. Kar, K.K. Swain & H.S. Palei (2017). The Vulnerable Indian Skimmer Rynchops albicollis Swainson, 1838 (Aves: Charadriiformes: Laridae) breeding in Odisha, eastern India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 9(11): 10961–10963;

Dilawar, M. & V. Sharma (2016). A new breeding location of Indian Skimmer Rynchops albicollis, and notes on tther birdsin Son Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh, India. Indian BIRDS 11(2): 35–38.

FAO (1974). India: A Preliminary Survey of the Prospects for Crocodile Farming (Based on the work of H.R. Bustard, Consultant). FO: IND/71/033, October 1974. United Nations Development Programme, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Rome 1974, 50pp.

Fausch, K.D., C.E. Torgersen, C.V. Baxter & H.W. Li (2002). Landscapes to Riverscapes: Bridging the Gap between Research and Conservation of Stream Fishes. BioScience 52(6): 483–498. Downloaded from by Dr L.A.K. Singh, guest on 24 February 2018.

FSI (2001). The State of Forest Report 2001. Forest Survey of India, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Dehra Dun.

FSI (2017). The State of Forest Report 2017. Forest Survey of India, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Dehra Dun.

Habib B., S. Shrotriya, K. Sivakuymar, V.B. Mathur & P.R. Sinha (2010). Radiuo-Telemetry studies in India - issues and way forward, pp. 03–19. In: Sivakumar, K. & B. Habib (eds.). Telemetry in Wildlife Science, ENVIS Bulletin: Wildlife & Protected Areas. Vol. 13 No.1. Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun-248001, India. 246pp.

Mathur, R., R.K. Sharma, K.C. Nand & S. Sharma (1991). Water quality assessment of the river Chambal over the stretch of National Chambal Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh. Indian Journal of Ecology 18(1): 1–4.

Mathur, S.P. & N. Maheswari (2006). Water quality and environment in and around industrialized city of Kota. International Journal of Environmental Protection 26(1): 917–922.

Müller, F., C. Baessler, M. Frenzel, H. Schubert & S. Klotz (2010). Long-term ecosystem research between theory and application - an introduction. In: Müller, F., C. Baessler, S. Klotz & H. Schubert (eds.). Long-term Ecological Research. Springer, Dordrecht. Abstract viewed on 11 Feb 2018 at

Pimm, S.L., S. Alibhai, R. Bergl, A. Dehgan, C. Giri, Z. Jewell, L. Joppa, R. Kays & S. Loarie (2015). Emerging Technologies to Conserve Biodiversity. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 30(11): 685–696;

Rajguru, S.K. (2017). Breeding biology of Indian Skimmer Rynchops albicollis at Mahanadi River, Odisha, India. Indian BIRDS 13(1): 1–7.

Rao, R.J. & L.A.K. Singh (1987a). Notes on comparative body size, reproductive effort and species of Kachuga (Reptilia, Chelonia) in the National Chambal Sanctuary. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 84(1): 55–65.

Rao, R.J. & L.A.K. Singh (1987b). Notes on ecological relationship in basking and nesting site utilisation among Kachuga spp. (Reptilia, Chelonia) and Gavialis gangeticus (Reptilia, Crocodilia) in National Chambal Sanctuary. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 84(3): 599–604.

Rao, R.J. & L.A.K. Singh (1987c). Kachuga (Reptilia, Emydidae) in National Chambal Sanctuary: Observations on diurnal nesting emergences and unsuccessful nesting crawl. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 84(3): 688–691.

Roberts, A., J.M. Eadie, D.W. Howerter, F.A. Johnson, J.D. Nichols, M.C. Runge, M.P. Vrtiska & B.K. Williams (2017). Strengthening Links Between Waterfowl Research and Management. Nebraska Game and Parks Commission - Staff Research Publications. 69; Downloaded on 24 February 2018.

Sharma, R.K. (1990). Detailed chemical study on the egg of Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) (Gmelin) (Reptilia, Crocodilia) with reference to environment. A thesis submitted for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry to Jiwaji University, Gwalior, 323pp+56 fig.+60 tables.

Sharma, R.K. (2012). Indian Skimmer Rynchops albicolis Swainson 1838. In: Rahmani, A.R. (eds.). Threatened Birds of India: Their Conservation Requirements. Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) & Oxford University Press, 861pp.

Sharma, R.K. (2015). Long term monitoring of Indian Skimmer in National Chambal Sanctuary, pp. 160–165. In: Envis Bulletin. Wildlife and Protected Areas, 16(2013–14): 396pp.

Sharma, R.K. & S.C. Bhadoria (2012). Conservation of Indian Skimmer (Rynchops albicollis) in National Chambal Sanctuary, an in situ hatchery. Submitted to MPFD, 1–10pp.

Sharma, R.K., R. Mathur & S. Sharma (1995a). Status and Distribution of fauna in National Chambal Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh “The Indian Forester†Dehradun, 121(10): 912–916.

Sharma, R.K., R. Mathur & S. Sharma (1995b). Status survey of soil quality in National Chambal Gharial Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh. Journal of Ecobiology 7(I): 61–65.

Sharma, R.K. & L.A.K. Singh (1986). Wetland Birds in National Chambal Sanctuary. Preliminary Report from field camp. Crocodile Research Centre of Wildlife Institute of India, Hyderabad, 36pp+7table.

Sharma, R.K. & L.A.K. Singh (2014). Status of Gangetic Dolphin (Platanista gangetica) in National Chambal Sanctuary after thirty years. Zoos’ Print Magazine XXIX(7): 22–27.

Sharma, R.K. & L.A.K. Singh (2015). Status of Mugger Crocodile (Crocodylus Palustris) in National Chambal Sanctuary after thirty years and its implications on conservation of Gharial (Gavialis Gangeticus). Zoos’ Print Magazine XXX(5): 9–16.

Sharma, R.K., P.P. Titare & J.P. Sharma (2016). Annual survey report on Gharial and Mugger in National Chambal Sanctuary submitted to MPFD, 29pp, 9 tables, 9 figures, 7 photos, 5 maps.

Sharma, S. (2017). Wildlife Institute of India discovers Indian Skimmer bird species in Allahabad. TNN, May 10, 2017.

Singh, L.A.K. (1985). Gharial Population Trend in NationalChambal Sanctuary with notes on radio-tracking. Study Report December 1985. Crocodile Research Centre, Wildlife Institute of India, Hyderabad, 167pp+vii.

Singh, L.A.K. (1987). Public involvement in the Indian Crocodile Conservation Programmes, pp. 233–237. In: Webb, C., S. Manolis & P. Whitehead (eds.). Wildlife Management: Crocodiles and Alligators. Surrey Seaty and Sons Pty Ltd., Australia.

Singh, L.A.K. (1999). Significance and achievement of the Indian Crocodile Project. Envis (Wildlife and Protected Areas). Wildlife Institute of India, Dehra Dun 2(1): 10–16.

Singh, L.A.K. (2013). Tourist carrying capacity in sanctuaries on land vs. river. May 9, 2013.

Singh, L.A.K. (2014). Current Trends of Wildlife Research (with an overview of research in the past and lessons for future), pp. 4–5. Abstract in: Book of Abstracts, UGC Sponsored National Seminar, Current Trends of Animal Science Research in India, 21st and 22nd March 2014, North Orissa University, 81pp.

Singh, L.A.K. & R.J. Rao (1984). Ecological relationship among Turtles in National Chambal Sanctuary. Interim Study Report-1 CRC/NCS/21-a.Crocodile Research Centre. Wildlife Institute of India. Morena, 45pp.

Singh, L.A.K. & R.J. Rao (1985). Ecological Relationship among Turtles in National Chambal Sanctuary, Interim Study Report-2. National Chambal Sanctuary, Deori, Morena, Madhya Pradesh, 27pp.

Singh, L.A.K. & R.K. Sharma (1985). Gangetic Dolphin (Platanista gangetica) observations on habits and distribution pattern in National Chambal Sanctuary. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 82(3): 648–653.

Singh, L.A.K. & R.K. Sharma (2015). Climate-related warnings viewed through population trend of crocodiles and dolphin in National Chambal Sanctuary. Presentation made at and Abstract in: UGC-SAP Sponsored National Seminar on Challenges and practices in biodiversity conservation with special reference to herpetofauna, 20–21 November 2015, Department of Zoology, North Orissa University.

Singh, L.A.K., S.K. Dixit & R.K. Sharma (1984). Wildlife in National Chambal Sanctuary. Souvenir, Sixth all India Congress of Zoology, Gwalior.

Sundar, K.S.G. (2004). Observations on breeding Indian Skimmers Rynchops albicollis in the National Chambal Sanctuary, Uttar Pradesh, India. Forktail 20: 89–90.

Taigor, S.R. & R.J. Rao (2010). Anthropogenic threats in the National Chambal Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh. Tigerpaper 37(1): 23–27.

Taigor, S.R., F.A. Khudsar & R.J. Rao (2008). Current population, distribution and dynamics of aquatic animal diversity of Chambal River, Madhya Pradesh and its threats of sand mining. Chapter 22, pp. 224–233. In: Reddy, M.V. (ed.). Wildlife Biodiversity Conservation. Daya Publishing House.

Taylor, H.R. & N.J. Gemmell (2016). Emerging Technologies to Conserve Biodiversity: Further Opportunities via Genomics. Response to Pimm et al. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 31(3): 171–172;