New plan to save endangered Great Indian Bustard

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New Delhi, Oct 5 (UNI) The Government has decided to launch a focused initiative to save the Great Indian Bustard, a bird which is the most endangered member of the bustard family in the world and is on the endangered red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN).

Found in the grasslands mainly of Rajasthan and Gujarat, the population of the bird has come down to less than a thousand in the last 15 years.

''We would draw up a recovery plan which invloves captive breeding, identification of the bird's habitat and its restoration,'' IG Wildlife in the Ministry of Environment and Forest R B Lal told UNI.

He said the Ministry had yesterday called a meeting of state representatives and experts to discuss the recovery plan and seek their opinion and suggestions.

Mr Lal said so far there had been no scientific survey of the endangered bird's polulation but according to the last survey done in the 1990s, its number was around 1500 to 2000, which had now come down to less than a thousand.

He said loss of habitat, mainly due to destruction of grassland for cultivation, has been the major factor besides poaching, in the decline in the population of the Indian bustard.

Mr Lal said the Ministry was giving financial aid to states to carry out scheme for conservation of the bird, besides declaring the bird's known habitat as protected areas, but the critical decline in the population needed focussed efforts and special plans.

There are at present two sanctuaries where the Indian Bustard can still be seen. They are the Desert National Park (Rajasthan) and the Lala-Parjau sanctuary in western Kutch (Gujarat).

In fact, while loss of forests has attracted the attention of conservationists and governments across the world, the destruction of grasslands which are home to so many beautiful and useful wildlife species has not found the same attention.

In addition to the Great Indian Bustard and his cousins the floricans, quails, warblers, babblers, and partridges, the grasslands are also the home of black bucks, nilghais or the blue bulls and the chinkaras.

A study by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has found that while light grazing by livestock and other animals actually helps improve the habitat, overgrazing leaves the birds without food, and finally without home.

UNI

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