Great Indian Bustard — The Way of the Dodo?

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On the afternoon of 15th September, a farmer in the Karamba village in Solapur, Maharashtra was grazing his cattle when he noticed a large, severely injured bird on the ground, its wings singed. Hovering by, helping death to strike were a few feral dogs. As he edged closer, he saw a black mobile like device on the prone creature. He knew the bird, a frequent visitor to his fields from the adjacent Nanaj sanctuary, and immediately informed the forest department. … Read More

Bustard, Wires, and the Flight to Extinction

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On behalf of the Bustard Conservation Team, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun.

This article is an outcome of Wildlife Institute of India’s ongoing research and conservation activities under the Great Indian Bustard Conservation Project investigated by Yadvendradev Jhala. The team members are, apart from the author, Sujit Narwade, Tushna Karkaria, Bipin C.M., Arjun Awasthi, Mohib Uddin, Devendradutta Pandey, Tanya Gupta, Sourav Supakar, Vineet Singh, Priyamvada Bagaria, Srinivas Y. and Shaheer Khan.

Much of India’s conservation movement has focused on forested … Read More

Great Indian Bustards near Desert National Park, Rajasthan

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On a trip to the Desert National Park in Nov 2014, I was fortunate to see 17 bustards in a fallow field just outside the park. The image captures seven of that flock.

The critically endangered Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps) is amongst the heaviest of flying birds. Less than a hundred remain in the wild, with the most (~70) being in Rajasthan, in and around the Desert National Park.

Currently (March 17 to 25, 2017), the Rajasthan forest department … Read More

Great Indian Bustards and Wind Turbines, Desert National Park, Rajasthan

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With just about 150-200 surviving in the wild, the fate of the Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps) already seems bleak. A significant population of these birds remain in Desert National Park, Rajasthan, the last stronghold for the critically endangered bird. The presence of wind turbines very close to the Great Indian Bustard enclosures near Sam Village in Desert National Park increase the bird’s potential life-threatening risks. Additionally, such enclosures (which form only about 4% of the park’s total area) are … Read More

WII Report: Status of Great Indian Bustard and Associated Wildlife in the Thar Desert Landscape

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The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the Rajasthan Forest Department have recently conducted a joint assessment of Great Indian Bustard status in Thar. The enclosed report describes the survey protocol and provides information on distribution, abundance and habitat of GIB and key associated wildlife in this crucial conservation landscape. We hope to replicate such surveys in other bustard landscapes with the kind cooperation of State Forest Departments so as to help managers in prioritizing and implementing site-specific actions.

The … Read More

Supreme Court Calls for New Standards for Endangered Species Conservation

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A slightly different version of this article appeared in the Hindu dated May 7, 2013.

The recent Supreme Court judgment on lions (Centre for Environmental Law WWF-1 v. Union of India and others, Supreme Court, 2013) has called for completely new standards for endangered species conservation to be set in the country. It has asked for lions to be re-introduced to Madhya Pradesh (Intervention Application 100, Biodiversity Conservation Trust of India through Faiyaz Khudsar in writ petition 337, 1995). It … Read More

Electrocuted Great Indian Bustard, Kutch

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On 12th September 2014, an adult female Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps) collided with high-tension electric powerlines near Kutch Bustard Sanctuary (KBS) in the Abdasa taluka of Kutch district, Gujarat. The bird was found dead just below the powerlines and had electrocution marks. The incident happened a few hundred meters from the boundary of KBS. There are three heavy powerlines passing by the Lala-Jakhau main road, two lines on one side and one on the other. The bird … Read More

Photography a Serious Threat to the Great Indian Bustard

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The GIB does not differentiate between a photographer and a poacher and treats them both as a serious threat. So, even approaching the bird for benign purposes such as wanting to take a picture can pose a serious threat to these birds, whose number has plummeted below 200 in India.

The GIB lives in open, short grass plains. It uses its height of 3.5 to 4 feet to scan for threats, and is able to perceive them from a long … Read More

Power Lines: Threat to the Great Indian Bustard

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Avian mortality due to collision with power lines is one of the leading causes of decline in the population of several species of birds, globally. This includes bustards and diurnal raptors. Thus an increase in the number of power lines in the bustard habitat at various Indian sites is a growing concern. These developments in the human landscape pose a challenge to the conservation of these bird species.

There were two reported incidents which led to the actual death of … Read More

GIB Campaign update — Rajasthan launches ‘Project Great Indian Bustard’

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With less than 200 left, will this magnificent bird be the first mega species to go extinct in India since the cheetah? Or can it be pulled back from the brink of extinction, like the California condor in America?

We are not crying wolf. A survey of recent literature — and discussions with experts — reveals that there may be less than 200 Great Indian Bustards (Ardeotis nigriceps) left in India. What’s worse, this tiny number is fragmented … Read More

Bellary — a Revival for Great Indian Bustards?

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Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps – GIB in short), a critically endangered Indian endemic bird on the verge of extinction, is showing signs of recovery in Bellary district. Two birds were recently sighted foraging in an agricultural field by seventeen-year-old budding naturalist Preeth Khona, in Chelugurki village 20 kms from Bellary and 60 Kms south of Sirguppa, where it was earlier rediscovered in 2006 by the author. Preeth Khona, Shruthi Punyamurthy and Sunaina Martin are budding naturalists and members … Read More

Unregulated Tourism at Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary, Nannaj

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There are a lot of tourism-related pressures on the critically endangered Great Indian Bustards in Nannaj, Solapur district, Maharashtra where the population is on the decline. The  population estimate for the Nannaj region is just 10-11 birds. Estimated population of the bustards in Maharashtra is around 35-40 birds. The Pune-based NGO GIB Foundation has proposed some specific recommendations for reducing tourism-related pressures for the bustards, especially during the monsoon — when bustards gather in their traditional breeding grounds — when … Read More

National Level Plan Drawn To Protect Endangered Bustard And Floricans

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A draft plan for national recovery of the critically endangered Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps) and the endangered Lesser Florican (Sypheotides indica) has been submitted by a special task force to the MoEF. The ‘Draft Guidelines for Species Recovery Programmes’– is hosted on the MoEF website. Comments/suggestions are invited from civil society owithin a week of issue of this notification, the website says.

“There is an immediate need for an executable plan both at the … Read More

SC Notification for The Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary in Maharashtra

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Finally, the Supreme Court (SC) has cleared the long-pending denotification of Great Indian Bustard (GIB) Sanctuary at Nannaj in Solapur district. From 8,496 sq km earlier, the sanctuary will now be restricted to 1,222 sq km.

The matter was pending in the court since 2006. In October, 2008, the SC had directed the committee for rationalization of boundaries to recommend the area of the GIB sanctuary. Accordingly, a committee headed by VB Sawarkar, ex-director of Wildlife Institute of India (WII), … Read More

Gujarat Seeks 3,000 Hectare Land for Bustard Conservation

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The Gujarat forest department wants about 3,000 hectares of revenue land near the Bustard Sanctuary in Naliya taluk of Kutch district to be converted into forest land to save the crtitically endangered Great Indian Bustard.

“We have written to the revenue department to convert the revenue land adjoining the Bustard Sanctuary (in Naliya taluk of Kutch) to forest land which could be used for conservation of the Great Indian Bustard. We are yet to get any reply from revenue department … Read More

Great Indian Bustard has been uplisted to Critically Endangered, the highest level of threat

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One of the world’s largest species of bird is on the brink of extinction according to the 2011 IUCN Red List for birds, just released by BirdLife International. Great Indian Bustard Ardeotis nigriceps has been uplisted to Critically Endangered, the highest level of threat. Hunting, disturbance, habitat loss and fragmentation have all conspired to reduce this magnificent species to perhaps as few as 250 individuals.… Read More

Madhya Pradesh plans Great Indian Bustard conservation along the lines of Desert National Park

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The state of Madhya Pradesh is planning on increasing conservation activities around the Great Indian Bustard (GIB). The state has lost all the GIBs from the Karera sanctuary in Shivpuri and is left to preserve only a handful in Ghatigaon sanctuary (Gwalior). Chief Wildlife Warden HS Pabla closely monitored the conservation of the GIB in Desert National Park on his recent visit to Rajasthan, which is protecting around 100-150 GIBs. Only eight GIBs have been spotted in the last census … Read More