- Once the frontrunner to be named India’s national bird, the Great Indian Bustard has long been on the brink of extinction. The Great Indian Bustard (GIB), is one of the heaviest flying birds, and is found mainly in the Indian subcontinent.
- Barely 150 of these birds are estimated to be surviving now globally. However, a major conservation effort launched about four years ago is bringing a ray of hope.
Facts for Prelims
- Since June last year, nine GIB eggs collected from the Desert National Park in Jaisalmer where a conservation centre has been set up, have hatched, and the chicks are reported to be doing well. This is the largest number of hatchings reported within a six-month frame by any GIB conservation programme in the world, say officials.
- The GIB is known to eat insects, harvested foodgrains, and fruit. “The uncontrolled use of pesticides and insecticides in farms has badly hit their food habitat,” said Tomar, who took over as the project head in early 2019. Vanishing grasslands, and attacks by dogs and foxes have contributed to the threat to the GIB’s survival.
- According to the WII report, the bird was once abundant in Kutch, Nagpur, Amravati, Solapur, Bellary, and Koppal districts in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Karnataka. “Karnataka has expressed interest in working with us, but there is nothing concrete from Maharashtra so far,” the officer said.
- Globally and in India, high voltage power lines are a major threat to the GIB, the WII report says. The bird has poor frontal vision, which restricts it from spotting power lines early. “…About 15% of the population (dies) due to the power lines in Jaisalmer alone. This, in comparison to the natural cause of deaths contributed only 4% to 5% cases,” the report says.