Bustard on the verge of extinction in India

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Gwalior, Sept 20 : The forest officials in Madhya Pradesh have gone into an alert following the death of near extinct a great Indian bustard after having recovered it in a critical condition from a forest.

The great Indian bustard, locally known as 'Son Chiriya', is found in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. The bird is on the verge of extinction and its current population is estimated at less than 1,000.

Madhya Pradesh is reportedly said to have been left with less than twenty birds despite steps taken by the government to protect this rare species.

Though an area has been created and funds have been allotted to protect the bird, the steps have not been enough to safeguard these birds.

Just five days ago, a great Indian bustard was found in a critical condition in a forest and the forest department was not able to save it.

The forest authorities are now investigating the cause of the bird's death.

"A team has been put in place to conduct necessary tests in the laboratory. Some problem has been detected in the stomach, but there is no problem in the lungs. There are no traces of infection in the area, but I think the dead bird had suffered from paralysis in its legs and wings," said Dr. A. K Mittal, a doctor.

The government has asked the concerned authorities to protect these birds under the Great Indian Bustard Project and are annually allotting 3 to 3.5 million rupees for it.

"An area of 512 sq km has been provided. The area has been put under the management of the forest department. We receive 3,000,000 to 3,500,000 rupees as funds to protect these birds per year," said V.K Saxena, President, Great Indian Bustard Project, Gwalior.

The project authorities have announced monetary inducements to encourage peoples' involvement in conservation effort.

It has offered cash prize award to every person who finds these birds and informs the authorities about it. A cash prize of Rs. 1000 is offered to every person who finds this bird and an amount of 10,000 to the person who finds bustard capable of reproducing.

The bustard prefers dry, short grasslands where the vegetation is below its eye level. It is a terrestrial creature. It avoids dense grasslands as it hampers its movement. By Ashok Pal

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