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Decline in vulture, Great Indian Bustard numbers in Gujarat: Govt

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Gandhinagar, Mar 29: The Gujarat government on Tuesday informed the legislative Assembly that the population of vultures and Great Indian Bustards, both endangered birds, has declined in the state, while the count of lions, leopards and bears has increased.

Representational Image

Responding to a query by Congress MLA Kanti Sodha Parmar during Question Hour, Forest Minister Kiritsinh Rana said the last wildlife census conducted in 2016 suggested a decline in the number of vultures by 44 and a drop in the count of Great Indian Bustards (GIBs) by 23 in the state.

Rana, however, in his reply did not mention the current population of both the endangered birds in Gujarat.

According to the minister, the population of lions saw an increase of 151 in the census of 2020. Similarly, 235 more leopards were found in the census of 2016, while the bear count rose by 50.

While the blackbuck population saw an increase of 2,847 in the census of 2015, the Indian wild ass number registered a rise of 1,631 in the census of 2020, he said.

Responding to a sub-question regarding the steps taken for conservation of endangered birds whose number has declined, Rana said the state government has already banned veterinary use of diclofenac, a drug considered as one of the major contributing factors in declining population of vultures.

To ensure regular supply of food to the scavengers, the state government has built "Vulture Cafetaria" in different parts of the state, said Rana, adding villagers are continuously made aware about the importance of these birds.

The minister said efforts are also being made to protect the nests built by vultures on top of coconut trees.

While a breeding programme for captive vultures has been initiated in the Junagadh zoo, ten vultures of five different species were tagged with transmitters to study their habitat and behaviour, he said.

For the conservation of Great Indian Bustards, mainly found in the Kutch region of Gujarat, Rana said the area inhabited by them has been declared a sanctuary and also an eco-sensitive zone.

The minister said work to put reflectors on windmills in areas around the habitat of GIBs was on to prevent the birds from getting injured from moving blades.

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