Tuesday, 24 July 2012

MoEF calls for action plan to save Great Indian Bustards

Gujarat’s Great Indian Bustards (GIB) and Lesser Floricans (or Likh) — large, rare birds found in grasslands — are facing “very high” to “high” levels of threats like poaching, removal or destruction of eggs and nests, habitat destruction and lack of effective grassland management, according to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).

The ministry has directed the forest departments of Gujarat and other states where, the birds are found, to draw up action plans and form local conservation committees, in turn pledging to provide Central funds.

“Currently, not more than 300 individuals of GIB are left in the world, with no known breeding population outside India,” the ministry said in a set of guidelines issued last week, adding the species has been listed as “critically endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) — the world’s foremost body of conservation naturalists.

GIBs gather in grassland patches to breed during mid-summer and monsoon, nesting in open areas and laying one or, at most, two eggs per year, the IUCN says, adding that it “probably makes local and possibly long distance nomadic movements” during other months.

In Gujarat, the GIB is found in and around the Bustard Sanctuary in Kutch district. A 2012 assessment by the IUCN says there are now “fewer than 20 birds at densities of 0.05 per sq km in about 400 sq km suitable habitat” in Kutch.

The MoEF has identified Kutch’s Abdasa taluka as the site for conservation measures directed at the GIB. Revenue and gauchar land falling under 16 villages, where the birds breed, are to be acquired on a war footing because it is “being encroached and developed illegally”.

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