How Rajasthan forest dept, WII overlooked preservation plans for the Great Indian Bustard

The Rajasthan’s state bird bird faces threat of imminent extinction but the authorities have failed to launch efforts to save it although Rs 22 crore budget was released two years back and has been lying unutilised.

Jaipur: The Rajasthan forest department’s plan to save Great Indian Bustard (GIB) remains on paper for last eight years although the bird has almost disappeared from its historic geographical range around the world . The plan to breed the rare bird in captivity has not materialised and the bird’s numbers have dwindled to 60-70 from 250 in the last few years.

Budget to save GIB was released 2 years back

This is despite the fact that GIB enjoys the status of Rajasthan’s state bird. To save this bird from extinction a project was prepared eight years ago and a budget of Rs 22 crore was released two years back. But no action has been taken at the ground level.

According to experts, the ‘sariskanisation’ (this word was coined after extinction of tigers in Sariska and means extinction of a species) of GIB is almost certain if captive breeding is not started soon. Although the budget has been sanctioned, neither the state forest department nor the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has been able to launch captive breeding project.

Ever-shrinking grasslands, hunting main threats

Senior wildlife expert Harshvardhan, who has been working to save GIB for the past 15 years, said GIB is hunted for its meat. He said GIB is hunted for its meat and that they need vast grassland for their survival and with ever-shrinking grasslands; He added that GIB population has plummeted in India.

Experts believe that Great Indian Bustard might be the first species to go extinct in India, post-independence. No efforts are being made to raise awareness among villagers to save the bird. Shockingly, Rs 22 crores have been lying unused for two years, but the forest department is not able to start work to save the bird.

Today the bustard is restricted to isolated pockets in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. But the only viable population of the bird survives in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer.

Disputes mar conservation efforts

Captive breeding centre is proposed to be set up in Kota

Dispute: According to the department, the climate of the region is moist and so unsuitable for GIB.

Finding flight path of GIBs after fitting them with radio collars

Dispute: It will take time and unlikely to help GIB in survival

Providing suitable environment for release of captive-bred birds

Dispute: No meeting with local people and MLAs took place in this regard.