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SC seeks government’s response on evolving ‘Project Great Indian Bustard’ conservation programme

  • Category
    Ecology and Environment
  • Published
    3rd Dec, 2022

Context

The Supreme Court sought the government's response about evolving a 'Project Great Indian Bustard' conservation programme to bring attention to the peril faced by the Species.

Background:

It is the State bird of Rajasthan and has its habitat mostly confined to the region of Rajasthan, and Gujarat.

  • The Great Indian Bustard (GIB) is considered India’s most critically endangered bird and is protected under the Wildlife Protection Act.
  • Its population of about 150in Rajasthan accounts for 95% of its total world population.
  • The captive breeding of GIBswas taken up in the Desert National Park through a project executed by the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India in 2019.

About

The Great Indian Bustard (GIBs):

  • The Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps), is a bustard native to the Indian subcontinent. Bustards are large terrestrial birdsfound in dry grasslands and steppe regions.
  • It is also known as the Indian Bustard; it is among the heaviest flying birds in existence.
  • It is the State bird of Rajasthanand 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: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.

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

Reasons behind the declining population of GIBs:

  • As Rajasthan shares the international borderwith Pakistan’s Sindh and Punjab provinces, it is suspected that the GIBs might have flown across to the neighbouring country’s desert.
  • The GIBs in the Thar Deserthas been facing threat to their survival because of intensive agricultural practices, lying of power lines, and industrialization.
  • Experts have observed that the endangered birds have raised their families within the Desert National Park and outside in the rural pockets, where feed and grassland habitat is available.
  • They also move in the crop fields to pick up insects and lizards and like to hide there.

The 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.

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