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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 18 April, 2021

  • 12 Min Read

Great Indian Bustard poaching

Great Indian Bustard poaching

Great Indian Bustard and Conservation Efforts

  • It is one of the heaviest Flight birds. They have weak eyesight. Habitat is grassland (not covered under Forest Conservation Act, 1980).
  • It is endemic to the Indian subcontinent found in Central India, west India and eastern Pakistan.
  • Bustard species found in India: Great Indian Bustard, Lesser Florican and Bengal Florican; Houbara Bustard in Pakistan.
  • It is considered the flagship/ indicator grassland species, representing the health of the grassland ecology. No species can replace it.
  • It has an L-shaped habitat = Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
  • The largest population is in Rajasthan. It is also Rajasthan’s State Bird. There are 150 Great Indian Bustards (GIB) in Rajasthan’s Desert National Park (DNP).
  • Other important Sites: Great Indian Bustard WS (Maharashtra), Naliya (Gujarat), Warora (Maharashtra) and Bellary (Karnataka); Rollapadu WS (Andhra Pradesh) and Karera Wildlife Sanctuary (MP); Lala Sanctuary in Kutch.

Conservation Efforts

  • Protection under Schedule 1 of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972; Appendix I of CITES; CMS/ Bonn Convention & Critically Endangered under IUCN.
  • Rajasthan State has started Project Godawan for its conservation at Desert National Park in Jaisalmer.
  • It is 1 of the species under the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitat's Species Recovery Programme. The important objective of this programme is to build up the captive population of GIB and to release the chicks in the wild for increasing the population.
  • The decline in the Population of the Great Indian Bustard
  • MoEF initiated a project of 34 crores for the conservation and protection of GIB. Only 130 individuals are left.

Reason for decline:

  • Hunting, poaching, habitat erosion, 'greening' projects that transform arid grasslands to wooded areas, change of land use from grassland to farmland, fast-moving vehicles and free-ranging dogs in villages.
  • In recent times, death due to collision with wind turbines and power transmission lines has emerged as a major factor.
  • Grassland is not covered under Forest Conservation Act, 1980.

What is the news?

  • The Supreme Court on Monday intervened on behalf of the critically endangered Great Indian Bustards over the birds falling dead after colliding with power lines running through their dwindling natural habitats in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
  • A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde will examine on a priority basis whether overhead power cables can be replaced with underground ones to save one of the heaviest flying birds on the planet.
  • Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the Power Ministry, however, submitted that only low voltage lines can go underground but not the high voltage ones.
  • The court found further that an alternative mechanism — to install flight bird diverters — to guide the birds away from the power lines would be expensive.
  • The court discovered that the diverters, with their recurring costs, would end up costing more than installing and maintaining underground lines. But the court suggested treading the middle path.
  • “Wherever there are high voltage power lines, they can use flight bird diverters even if the recurring costs are high. Wherever there are overhead low voltage lines, these lines can be placed underground,” Chief Justice Bobde remarked.
  • Senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, appearing for some power companies, objected to the court passing any sort of blanket ban which would affect over 50 lakh jobs.
  • Mr Singhvi said the greater threat to the birds was from their diminishing habitat, flattened for agriculture.

Recent News: Great Indian Bustard poaching

  • The recent shooting of two Great Indian Bustards (GIBs) in Pakistan’s Cholistan desert, with the poachers brazenly getting themselves photographed with the carcasses of birds in their hands and guns on their shoulders, has left wildlife activists in Rajasthan shocked and outraged.
  • The GIB, which is the State bird of Rajasthan, is considered India’s most critically endangered bird.
  • A group of hunters, allegedly led by a retired Major of the Pakistan Army, shot down two GIBs in a protected area of southern Punjab’s Cholistan game reserve in Pakistan earlier this month.
  • Retired Major Tanveer Hussain Shah, a resident of Rahim Yar Khan district, and his accomplices, also attacked wildlife officials of that country when they tried to stop the group from hunting GIBs and chinkara deer.
  • The grassland habitat with grass cover in the Cholistan desert, where the GIBs were foraging, is similar to the habitat in Rajasthan’s Desert National Park (DNP), where the GIB’s last remnant wild population is found.
  • The DNP, situated near the towns of Jaisalmer and Barmer, forms a part of the mighty Thar desert.
  • The GIB’s population of fewer than 100 in Rajasthan accounts for 95% of its total world population.
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), a global authority on species survival, which categorised the GIBs as “endangered” in 1994, was forced to upgrade the species to the status of “critically endangered” in 2011 because of continued threats faced in the survival of these large birds.
  • Wildlife authorities in Rajasthan had permitted captive breeding of GIB, protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, in the DNP through a project executed by the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India in 2019 after a prolonged debate.
  • Sixteen chicks of GIB are in hands now being reared in DNP by a team supported by the Houbara Breeding Centre of UAE.
  • As Rajasthan shares the international border with Pakistan’s Sindh and Punjab provinces, it is suspected that Indian-bred GIBs will fly across to Pakistan’s desert and will be easy prey for the gun-toting poachers there.

For more information about Great Indian Bustard: click here

Source: TH


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