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GREAT INDIAN BUSTARD

Written by Talent KAS

Related Topics: Environment & Biodiversity, National Green Tribunal (NGT)

News

  • Noting the high mortality rate of the Great Indian Bustard, NGT has directed the Centre to prepare a time-bound action plan within two months for protection of the birds.
  • NGT also constituted a joint committee comprising officials of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Ministry of Power and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
  • The committee was asked to prepare an action plan for the implementation of suggestions put forth by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).
  • A recent study suggests that, Great Indian Bustard population has been falling continuously, from around 1,260 in 1969 to less than 200 in 2018.

About the Species

  • The Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis Nigriceps), one of the heaviest flying birds, can weigh up to 15 kg and grow up to one metre in height.
  • Great Indian Bustard is the state bird of Rajasthan.
  • It is popularly known as ‘Godawan’.

Habitat

  • Arid and semi-arid grasslands, open country with thorn scrub, tall grass interspersed with cultivation. It avoids irrigated areas.
  • It is endemic to Indian Sub-continent, found in central India, western India and eastern Pakistan.
  • Currently, it is found in only six states in the country — Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka.

Protection

  • The bird was categorised as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in July 2011.
  • It is listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife(Protection) Act, 1972.
  • Protection under CITES Appendix I.

Significance

  • It is an indicator species for grassland
  • Its gradual disappearance from such environments shows their deterioration.
  • Once the species is lost, there will be no other species to replace it.
  • This will affect the stability of ecosystem of the grassland and affect critical bio-diversities, as well as blackbucks and wolves, who share their habitat with the Great Indian Bustard.

Threats

Hunting, poaching, habitat erosion, ‘greening’ projects that transform arid grasslands to wooded areas, change of land use from grassland to farmland, collisions with high tension electric wires, fast moving vehicles and free-ranging dogs in villages

Conservation Efforts

  • It’s one of the Species for the Recovery Programme under the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.
  • Rajasthan, home to one of the last remaining populations of the Great Indian Bustard, has charted out a plan to recover the population of the critically endangered bird.
  • Rajasthan government has started “Project Godawan” for its conservation at Desert National Park (DNP) in Jaisalmer.
  • The project aims at identifying and fencing off bustard breeding grounds in existing protected areas as well as providing secure breeding enclosures in areas outside protected areas.

[Source: The Hindu, Down To Earth]

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