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Two Great Indian Bustards satellite-tagged in Rajasthan

Published: 27th Apr, 2019


Two female Great Indian Bustards (GIBs) have been satellite-tagged in the Desert National Park (DNP) in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district.

Besides tracking the movements of the birds, the scientists also hope to take out the egg of the bird from its nest and try to incubate it in an especially-created incubation facility.


The Satellite technology-

  • The technique of satellite telemetry has been used for a long time in the last century to track the movements of birds.
  • It usually involves a bird being fitted with a satellite transmitter weighing 170 grammes.
  • Today, GPS technology is being used, giving scientists even more precise data.
  • Using satellite tagging, scientists can know what route the birds take on their flights as well as what problems they face.
  • They can also know whether all these populations are interacting with one another or not.
  • The satellite tagging of the GIBs in Rajasthan is the third such attempt in India.
  • It has been done in this very decade, first in Maharashtra-Karnataka and then in Kutch.
  • The Kutch satellite tagging showed that GIBs do not use habitat where there are windmills.
  • In the Maharashtra-Karnataka study, which was conducted in the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary in Nannaj in Solapur district that borders north Karnataka, it was found that the birds spent some time in the sanctuary and the rest outside it.
  • This led scientists to conclude that GIBs need mixed-landscape habitat. Thus, satellite-tagging gives crucial information for formulation of any action plan.

Key Facts-

  • In Rajasthan, there are two populations of the GIB.
  • One is in Pokhran and the other in the DNP. There is a distance 150-170 kilometres between the two places, as the crow flies.
  • GIBs fly between these two pockets. They also fly over the international border to Pakistan (the Cholistan desert near Bahawalpur) and southwest to Kutch. 

Great Indian Bustard-

  • The great Indian Bustard or Indian bustard is a bustard found on the Indian subcontinent.
  • A large bird with a horizontal body and long bare legs, giving it an ostrich like appearance, this bird is among the heaviest of the flying birds.
  • The species is critically endangered by hunting and loss of its habitat, which consists of large expanses of dry grassland and scrub.
  • These birds are often found associated in the same habitat as blackbuck.
  • It is protected under Wildlife Protection Act 1972 of India.
  • Great Indian bustards make local movements but these are not well understood although it is known that populations disperse after the monsoons.
  • Males are said to be solitary during the breeding season but form small flocks in winter.
  •  Males may however distribute themselves close together and like other bustards they are believed to use a mating system that has been termed as an "exploded or dispersed lek". The male is polygamous.

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