Act before it’s too late for Great Indian Bustard, says experts

Conservation portal urges Gujarat CM to take action

Experts and conservationists believe that a project on the lines of Project Tiger has to be launched in order to save the Great Indian Bustard (GIB) that is threatened with extinction.

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Prerna Singh Bindra, member of the National Board for Wildlife, said that Conservation India (CI), a wildlife conservation portal, has urged Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to take immediate measures for conservation of the threatened bustard species. “If action is not taken, this bird could become the first mega species to go extinct in the country since the cheetah. Only a ‘Project Bustard’ can save the species, just as ‘Project Tiger’ did for our national animal”, said Bindra.

According to CI’s campaign paper, “Act Now! Or say Goodbye to the Great Indian Bustard,” there may be less than 200 Great Indian Bustard left in India. In Gujarat, 50 of the threatened bustard species are to found in Kutch.

The bird has already disappeared from more the 90 per cent of its former habitats. “What is worse, the meager remaining number is fragmented into small populations across several Indian states, making the bird even more vulnerable to extinction. If urgent and targeted conservations actions are not taken immediately, the bird will almost certainly go extinct within the next decade or two,” says CI co-founder Ramki Sreenivasan.

The Great Indian Bustard (GIB) is found in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The largest population of about 100 birds is in Rajasthan where it is the state bird.

The GIB is threatened with extinction because of the reduction in undistributed arid and grassland (its habitat), degradation of and distribution to its existing habitat, hunting, lack of projection for many traditional “lekking” and nesting sites, and lack of a management and conservation policy for natural grassland.

Apart from these issues, there is lack of cooperation between different departments and stakeholders in GIB habitats. Livestock overgrazing and disturbance by tourists and photographers, especially during breeding season, have also contributed to reduction in GIB numbers.

According to the campaign paper, there is a need for urgent and coordinated actions, including setting up of a secure and fully protected ‘lekking’ sites, where male bustards gather to attract females. Also there is a need to constitute a GIB task force in every state where these birds are to be found.

A full – scale ‘Project Bustard’ on the lines of Project Tiger needs to be launched for the threatened bustard species, conservationists say. The Ministry of Forests and Environment has demanded that the possibility should also be looked into.

Courtesy:- Times of India.

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