Top Copy – Poaching Threatens Future of Great Indian Bustard

  • The majestic Great Indian Bustards (GIBs) are vanishing from sight;
  • Their dwindling numbers have put them in the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) critically endangered category (red list).
  • According to estimates, less than 200 GIBs are surviving in the country.
  • A huge bird with a horizontal body and long bare legs, the GIB looks like an ostrich.
  • Among the heaviest of flying birds, they were once endemic to the dry plains of India, abundantly found in Ranebennur region of central Karnataka.
  • Habitat changes and rampant poaching affected their population significantly.
  • Mohammed Esmail Dilawar, president and founder, Nature Forever Society, Maharashtra: GIBs are shrinking by the day; their count has fallen below the 200 mark.
  • Grasslands in the state are being converted to agriculturally-fit land and pressure from real estate development is immense too.
  • S Subramanya, scientist and senior faculty at University of Agricultural Sciences says:Habitat loss is the obvious consequence,
  • Its shrinking number signals an impending environmental disaster.
  • Grasslands as a forest category support biodiversity dependent on them, ranging from termites and spiders to insects and wolves.
  • Unfortunately , they are usually considered wastelands.
  • Many species exist in the food web and food chain in grassland ecosystems. If one is allowed to vanish, other species too will unknowingly disappear.
  • Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have an estimated population of 10-15 birds each; they can still be spotted in the existing bustard ranges.
  • The drastic fall in the population of Indian bustards and the decline of grasslands prompted the ministry of environment and forests to draft a species-recovery programme in 2012 .
  • For each range, the state developed site-specific conservation plans, but their implementation has floundered, including the one in Karnataka.