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Great Indian Bustards (GIB) adapt to produce a 2-egg clutch

  • Category
    Ecology and Environment
  • Published
    27th Aug, 2022

Context

The Great Indian Bustards (GIB) has adopted a new habit of laying a clutch of two eggs at a time after having a diet with additional proteins during the monsoon season. Scientists have discovered the new proclivity in Jaisalmer district's Desert National Park (DNP).

About

What do we mean by a clutch?

  • A clutch of eggs is a group of eggs produced by birds, amphibians, or reptiles, often at a single time, particularly those laid in a nest.
  • Size: Clutch size differs greatly between species, sometimes even within the same genus.
  • It may also differ within the same species due to many factors including habitat, health, nutrition, predation pressures, and time of year.

Has a 2-egg clutch been observed for the first time?

  • The answer is ‘No’. The scientist Wildlife Institute of India (WII) who is leading the project said that about 5% to 10% of the female GIBs had been detected in the past laying two eggs each.
  • But this is for the first time that such a high incidence, with the signs of an evolving habit, had been observed.

About Great Indian Bustard:

  • The Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps), is a bustard native to the Indian subcontinent. Bustards are large terrestrial birds found in dry grasslands and steppe regions. It is also known as the Indian Bustard; it is among the heaviest of flying birds in existence.
  • It is the State bird of Rajasthan and is considered India’s most critically endangered bird.
  • It is considered the flagship grassland species, representing the health of the grassland ecology.
  • The GIB is now found in a small number only in western Rajasthan, while Gujarat claims to have a few females left in its Banni Grassland Reserve.
  • Population: Less than 150 individuals of these birds persist in a few fragmented pockets of Rajasthan and Gujarat.
    • o   As per the last count of the GIB in 2018, there were around 127 birds in the Desert National Park or the DNP in Rajasthan.
    • o   Excessive hunting, the decline of natural habitation, and construction activities like electric posts are some of the main reasons for the decline of GIB.
  • Protection Status:
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List: Critically Endangered
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES): Appendix I
  • Convention on Migratory Species (CMS): Appendix I
  • Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule 1

 GIB- Breeding Project:

  • The WII's team has been working on ex-situ breeding of GIB for the last three years. They are aiming at preserving the GIBs, whose population has reduced to less than 150 in the wild.
  • The breeding project focuses on spatial prioritization, risk characterization, and conservation management with endangered species.
  • The laying of clutches of two eggs in 2020 aroused immense curiosity, after which the WII’s experts became vigilant in monitoring the nests to assess if such an instance would get repeated.
  • The state government's Forest Department started the breeding project in collaboration with the WII to raise the new stock of GIB chicks in 2019 after a long wait by environmentalists for nearly four decades.
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