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Current Affairs

Great Indian Bustards

Date: 24 July 2021 Tags: Biodiversity

Issue

The Rajya Sabha was informed that there was no Great Indian Bustards (GIB) population in Kutch Bustard Sanctuary (KBS) of Gujarat.

 

Background

The information comes amid a Supreme Court order to make high powered electric lines underground in Great Indian Bustard habitat areas.

 

Details

  • There are four bustard species found in India. The GIB is the largest among all such population. Other species include lesser florican, Bengal florican and MacQueen’s florican.

  • Earlier, GIB was found all over Indian subcontinent. Now the habitat has shrunken to 10 percent of the original one.

  • GIBs are terrestrial birds and are majorly found in grasslands ecosystem. Their major diet includes small insects such as grasshoppers, lizards and seeds.

  • They are indicator species that give an idea about the health of grasslands ecosystem. They are the flagship species.

 

Decreasing population

  • The population of GIBs in India is only about 150. Around 120 of them are present in Rajasthan. The rest are present in Kutch, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

  • Pakistan also has some GIBs. They are on the brink of extinction and are thus classified as critically endangered species.

 

Threats faced

  • The biggest threat is the high voltage electricity lines. Their vision is weak and they cannot escape the lines in time during flight, leading to their death.

  • The change in land cultivation pattern like switching over to cotton and oil seeds from pulses have led to fall in GIB numbers.

 

Conservation

  • The government had launched GIB recovery programme in 2015 under which eggs of GIBs are hatched in controlled environment.

  • The chicks are grown fully and are later released into the wild. This allows creation of next generation of species.