Fight for Survival: Campaign Launched to Save The Remaining 150 Great Indian Bustards
In their last attempt to save the endangered Great Indian Bustard, many wildlife organisations have come together to launch a campaign to save the endangered species of bird, which has drastically reduced to odd 150 birds in India.
The Heart of the matter
Once a flourishing and exotic species of birds, Great Indian Bustard dawned the skies from Punjab to Tamil Nadu. However, GIBs need vast grassland for their survival and with ever-shrinking grasslands, the GIB population also plummeted in India, drastically losing 90% of its original population. Experts believe that Great Indian Bustard might be the first species to go extinct in India, post-independence. Today, Great Indian Bustards are estimated to be less than 150 in counts with almost 100 birds surviving in the Thar Desert and Gujarat being the home to the remaining.
The Corbett Foundation in collaboration with the Conservation India and Sanctuary Nature Foundation launched a campaign to save the endangered birds. The campaign highlights the major threats to the bird population and suggests the immediate measures that are needed to be taken. The petitioners also wrote to Ministry of Power and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, highlighting how live wires are a major threat to GIB and they also suggested for an alternate method of supplying electricity. The suggestion requests for the wires to be placed underground in the area pertaining to GIB. The campaign also highlights the importance of preserving the grasslands for the survival of the birds.
In Case You Didn’t Know
According to Wildlife Institute of India, the population of Great Indian Bustard was estimated to be around 1200-1500 during the ’70s. In 2011, the population came drastically down to somewhat around 250. Since then, there has been a rapid decline in the GIB population in India. The recent census of just 150 remaining GIB has come as an alarm bell, highlighting the need for a conservation program in India.
Threats to GIBs
- Reduction in the extent of grasslands in India
- Lack of grassland protection policy and laws due to an incorrect perception of ecology.
- Lack of protection on the nesting sites of Great India Bustard
- Lack of awareness and support from the local community.
- Lack of cooperation between numerous concerned departments in GIB habitat.
- Livestock overgrazing a threat of feral dogs
Immediate measures that are needed to be taken
- State government and other stakeholders must ensure a proper protection on the lekking sites. Lekking sites are where male Great Indian Bustards come to display and attract female birds. If there is no protection on lekking sites, the breeding rate goes significantly down. Even if we secure the natural habitat for GIB but no the lekking site, the population may eventually go down.
- State Department must form and deploy a special GIB task force in every state that has GIB population. The team should be handpicked and must be aware and dedicated to the cause.
- Ministry of Environment and Forest should launch a massive scale “Project Bustard” with the collaboration of national and international scientists working to protect the bird population.
- State Department must examine the feasibility of captive breeding by forming a team of experts from all across the globe.
- An alternative to the overhead electric cables must be found as early as possible.
What can we do?
Rajasthan has the highest number of GIB population in India and we all can sign the campaign and raise our voice in social media so that the newly appointed Chief Minister of Rajasthan can take notice of the imminent threat to Great Indian Bustard. You can sign the petition here.
What lies ahead?
Since the campaign has started more than 6500 people have signed the online petition with celebrities like Dia Mirza and Anil Kumble have voiced their opinion about saving the endangered population of GIB. Earlier, the birds didn’t receive any support from either the government or NGOs, public sector or corporate sector. However, with this campaign, activists hope for a change in policy and attitude.