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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 05 December, 2022

  • 6 Min Read

Project Great Indian Bustard

Project Great Indian Bustard

  • The Supreme Court (SC) recently requested that the Centre review the concept of 'Project Great Indian Bustard (GIB)' to save endangered birds.

Important Points:

  • The Supreme Court established a three-member committee to evaluate the feasibility of laying high-voltage underground power cables.
  • The committee was directed by the SC to submit an updated status report on steps taken to protect the GIB.
  • Project GIB is similar to 'Project Tiger,' which was launched in 1973 to save big cats.

Demands of the Supreme Court:

It requested reports from the chief secretaries of Rajasthan and Gujarat on the following topics:

  • the installation of bird diverters in priority areas
  • All bird diverters must meet the quality standards set by the court-appointed committee.
  • Determine the total length of transmission lines in the two states where electric wires must be undergrounded to prevent the electrocution of birds.

About Great Indian Bustard:

  • It is the most critically endangered bird species in India.
  • It is most common in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
  • One of the world's heaviest flying birds, found only on the Indian subcontinent.
  • Rajasthan's State Bird

Extinction:

  • According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) 2021 report, they are on the verge of extinction, with only 50 to 249 remaining.
  • Ardeotis nigriceps (scientific name)
  • It's a large bird with brown and white feathers and a black crown and wing markings. It is one of the world's heaviest birds.
  • Males have whitish necks and underparts with black breast bands that are narrow.
  • Females are smaller, have a greyer neck, and usually have no or an incomplete breast band.

Habitat:

  • Arid grasslands, untamed.
  • Most GIBs were discovered in Jaisalmer and the Indian Army-controlled field firing range near Pokhran, Rajasthan.
  • Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh are among the other states.
  • The species is found in the Indian Subcontinent, with former strongholds in the Thar desert in the northwest and the Peninsula's Deccan tableland.
  • This species lives in flat or gently undulating arid and semi-arid grasslands with scattered short scrub, bushes, and low-intensity cultivation.

Population:

  • According to Wildlife Institute of India research, there are approximately 150 Great Indian Bustards left in the country, with approximately 128 birds in Rajasthan and less than 10 birds each in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka.
  • This year has seen a total of seven bustard deaths (2022).
  • The IUCN classification for this species is Critically Endangered.
  • Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act.
  • Hunting, agricultural intensification, and power lines are all threats to the bird.
  • It has an extremely small population that has been rapidly declining.
  • Widespread hunting for sport and food hastened its demise, which has been accelerated by vehicular access to remote areas.
  • High-intensity poaching persists in Pakistan, and egg collecting was common in many states during the early nineteenth century.

The current threats, however, are primarily caused by:

  • Habitat loss and degradation as a result of widespread agricultural expansion and mechanisation of farming.
  • Irrigation, roads, electricity pylons, wind turbines, and constructions are examples of infrastructure development.
  • Industrialization and mining
  • Habitat management that is well-intentioned but misguided.
  • The absence of community support.
  • According to the Wildlife Institute of India, high-tension wires from power companies are a major threat factor, killing about 15% of the GIB population due to collisions with power lines.

Indian Initiatives for GIB Protection

'An Integrated Approach to Habitat Improvement and Conservation Breeding of the Great Indian Bustard':

  • The Ministry with financial support from National Authority for Compensatory Afforestation Funds has sanctioned an outlay of Rs. 33.85 crores for the duration of five years for the program titled ‘Habitat Improvement and Conservation Breeding of Great Indian Bustard-an integrated approach.

The objective :

  • to build up the captive population of Great Indian Bustard and to release the chicks in the wild for increasing the population and also to promote in-situ conservation of the species.

Task Force:

  • The Ministry has also constituted a Task Force for suggesting Eco- friendly measures to mitigate the impacts of power transmission lines and other power transmission infrastructures on wildlife including the Great Indian Bustard.
  • The Great Indian Bustard has been included in Appendix I of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) on the basis of a proposal submitted by India.
  • It was also the mascot of the prestigious 13th CMS Conference of Parties held in Gandhinagar giving wider publicity for the conservation of the species.
  • Important habitats of Great Indian Bustards are designated as National Parks/Sanctuaries for their better protection.
  • The species have been identified for conservation efforts under the component ‘Species Recovery Programme’ of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS)-Development of Wildlife Habitat.

Directions of the National Green Tribunal (NGT):

  • NGT ordered a time-bound action plan for the implementation of mitigation measures such as the installation of bird diverters and their regular maintenance and monitoring by power agencies.
  • A Bustard conservation breeding center in Rajasthan has been set up in Jaisalmer.
  • Conservation Reserves: Great Indian Bustard habitats to be declared as conservation reserves.

Way Forward

  • Bird deterrents should be installed as soon as possible in priority areas.
  • It now requires an urgent acceleration in targeted conservation actions to avoid functional extinction within a few decades.
  • Develop priority-area landscape conservation strategies.
  • Consolidate identified core breeding areas across the species' range by establishing strict refuges during prime breeding months (March–September).
  • Systematic, country-wide population monitoring on alternate years for the next ten years will be used to assess the efficacy of these conservation actions.
  • Starting an ex-situ conservation breeding program as a precaution against extinction.
  • The local people and their active participation are critical

Source: The Indian Express


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