Great Indian Bustard

The Great Indian Bustard Is on the Verge of Extinction [2022]

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Great Indian Bustard

The Great Indian Bustard is a big terrestrial bird found in India and Pakistan. It is one of the biggest flying bird species on the planet. In different states, the Great Indian Bustard is called by different names. Popular names include Maldhok, Yerbhoot, Ghorad, Godawan, Tuqdar, Sohan chidia, and so on. Approximately 80% of the GIB’s habitat is located outside of Desert National Park.

When the Great Indian Bustard was nominated as India’s “National Bird,” it was highly backed by Indian Ornithologist Salim Ali but was discarded in favour of the “Indian Peafowl.”

The Great Indian Bustard has been designated as a Critically Endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) on the Red List of Threatened Species. Birdlife International downgraded this bird species from ‘Endangered’ to ‘Critically Endangered’ in 2011. Critically endangered species are those that face a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future.

India, the bustard’s native habitat, today has less than 150 individuals spread over five states. Today, most of its population lives in Rajasthan and Gujarat. There are also small populations in Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh.

The grass on which the GIBs deposit their eggs is known as sewan grass (Lasiurus scindicus). The GIB breeding centre was founded in 2019 to safeguard and conserve wild eggs.

Features of the Great Indian Bustard

The Great Indian Bustard is a huge cursorial bird (suited to run) with a long neck and long bare legs comparable to those of the ostrich. It stands around a metre tall. The Great Indian Bustard can be identified by its black crown on the forehead, which contrasts with the pale neck and head. The body is brownish, with black, brown, and grey markings on the wings. The male is around 1.1 – 1.20 m long and weighs between 8 to 18 kg. The female is shorter (9.2 m in length) than the male and weighs between 3.5 to 6.75 kg.

great indian bustard
great indian bustard

Life of Great Indian Bustard

Male and female Bustards usually travel in distinct unisexual flocks. The flock size ranges from 3 to 10 birds. The bird roosts on the ground. A flock of birds rests together while a couple of them keep an eye out for any threat. At night, they roost in the open, whereas during the day, they prefer lush grass or the shadow of a shrub. The bird has exceptional vision and hearing abilities, and it can hide when danger approaches.

The Great Indian Bustard is mostly quiet, but when threatened, it makes a barking sound called a “hook,” which is why it is also known as “Hookna” in certain regions of Northern India. Because it sounds like thunder or the roar of a tiger, it is known as Gaganbher or Gurayin in certain places.

Protection Status of Great Indian Bustard

  • Critically Endangered (IUCN Red Red List of Threatened Species, Version 2017 -1) 
  • CITES-Appendix I 
  • Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection)Act, 1972
  • Identified for the species recovery program under the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats Scheme.
  • Declared as the state bird of Rajasthan.

Great Indian Bustard 

  • The heaviest Flying Bird On the Planet
  • GIBs are the biggest of India’s four bustard species, the others being MacQueen’s bustard, lesser florican, and Bengal florican.
  • Locally called ‘Godavan’, a large territorial bird of grassland. 
  • Its habitat consists of a large landscape of dry grassland and scrub
  • Its breeding season starts from March to September. 
  • Adult bustards have territories of up to 1-2 sq. km. 
  • To defend the territories, fight among adult bustard are common and aggressive.
  • The male does not allow any intruder in their territories.
  • They prefer grassland and select a prominent place to have a panoramic view of their territories.
  • The diet comprises grains, drupes of Zizyphus, berries of Carissa, insects, small lizards and snakes. 
Great Indian Bustard
Great Indian Bustard

Population

According to the DCF Desert National Park administration, there are over 200 of them. The magnificent Indian Bustard is the state bird of Rajasthan and is found in the greatest quantity here. Gujrat has a few scattered numbers as well.

This year’s (2022) breeding season, Great Indian Bustards (GIBs) in Rajasthan’s Desert National Park (DNP) deposited roughly 20 eggs, with four females laying two eggs each.

Protected areas dedicated to GIB

  • Rajasthan: Desert National Park – Jaisalmer and Balmer
  • Gujarat: Naliya Sanctuary in Kutch
  • Madhya Pradesh: Karera Wildlife Sanctuary (The species disappeared from Madhya Pradesh in the early 90s’)
  • Maharashtra: Nannaj Grasslands, Solapur Andhra Pradesh: Rollapadu Wildlife Sanctuary

STATUS IN 2021

India, the bustard’s native habitat, today has less than 150 individuals spread over five states. Today, most of its population lives in Rajasthan and Gujarat. There are also small populations in Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh.

The Great Indian Bustard, which has the greatest wingspan, is on the verge of extinction due to the human population. The GIBs are dying as a result of collisions with overhead powerlines that run across the desert national park and nearby regions. The Supreme Court is now hearing a case that will determine how to conserve the great Indian bustards.

The two options which are under consideration are:

  • Is it possible to replace overhead power lines with underground power lines?
  • Installation of Flight Bird Divertors on power lines, which glow from afar and signal the GIB to adjust its flight course due to the GIB’s limited vision range.

KUTCH GREAT INDIAN BUSTARD SANCTUARY

A fire recently broke out within the Lala-Budiya Great Indian Bustard (GIB) Sanctuary near Naliya in Gujarat’s Kutch region, destroying at least 20 hectares of flora.

  • The Kutch Bustard Sanctuary, also known as the Kachchh Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary, is situated near Jakhau village in Gujarat, India.
  • This is one of two major Indian bustard sanctuaries in Gujarat, the other being at Jamnagar.
  • However, the sanctuary now only includes a protected area of around 2 square kilometres of fenced territory and is the country’s smallest sanctuary.
national park in gujarat
national park in gujarat

Desert National Park

  • Desert National Park (DNP) has sand dunes in the western parts and rocky and gravelly area in the remaining park area.
  • DNP is a barren area with sand dunes and few hills in the north- west side.
  • So DNP is mostly sandy with undulating terrain.
  • The Thar desert area in which DNP lies receives very low rainfall (less than 100 mm), so it is a very hot and arid region.
  • Though the Thar desert is one the most populated desert in the world, but the human population density in DNP is very low (4-5 persons per sq.km).
  • There are 73 village settlements or DHANIS inside the DNP. They form an integral part of the DNP and have existed here for hundreds of years.
Sariska Tiger Reserve
Sariska Tiger Reserve

Flora and fauna

  • The Great Indian Bustard is native to the DNP, and its largest thriving population is found in DNP only.
  • The endangered oriental white backed vulture and Long billed Gyps are also found here.
  • The Thar desert is rich in snake species, and 11% of total 456 reptile species of India, are found in DNP.
  • DNP is the only place where Rajasthan State Bird (Great Indian Bustard), State animal (Chinkara) and State tree (Khejri) and State flower (Rohida) are found naturally.

In conclusion, the Great Indian Bustard is critically endangered and needs our help. We need to continue working to protect their habitat and raising awareness about this beautiful bird. The more people that know about the Great Indian Bustard, the more people will want to help protect them. Let’s work together to save this species!

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