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Monday, February 6, 2012

Efforts to protect State Bird of Rajasthan, India

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Concern over globally threatened Great Indian Bustard

Rajasthan Forest Department has planned to survey population of globally threatened Great Indian Bustard, the State Bird of Rajasthan, from February 14, 2012 in technical association with Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).

The survey is to cover four districts of Rajasthan comprising Jaisalmer, Barmer, Jodhpur, and Bikaner. A village named Sonkalia in Ajmer has been included especially in the survey. It has been reported that the survey is to receive support from local NGOs, individual volunteers and Border Security Force of India.

The Great Indian Bustard is considered to be critically endangered species. The desert region of Rajasthan especially accounts for maximum population of the Great Indian Bustard. The bird has been listed in the Red Data Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). As per reports, it has been planned to count the bird in the desert terrain of Rajasthan in the second week of February 2012.

The Great Indian Bustard

Taxonomically known as Ardeotis nigriceps, the Great Indian Bustard has been estimated to be less than 500 in number in India. It is found in the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Gujarat besides Rajasthan. The principal reason behind falling number of the Great Indian Bustard has been reported to be hunting, habitat loss, changing pattern of land use and urbanization.

Some of important places in the desert having population of these birds in Rajasthan are Phalodi, Pokhran, Baap, Diyatra, Mohangarh, and Ramgarh. The birds are to be counted in the desert by volunteers astride camels- reports The Hindu (Jan. 31, 2012). The methodologies of counting the bird will be line transect method, i.e. counting of birds from one point to the other point. As per the reports the Thar desert of Rajasthan accounts for maximum population of the bird. These birds are especially found in the Jaisalmer district of the desert. The authorities have included Bikaner for the first time for the census of these birds in view of good chances of availability of birds there.

The status of population of the Great Indian Bustard and its habitat was already discussed in a workshop held in Delhi in the last week of December. It is expected that 80 to 100 birds may be found in Jaisalmer alone. It has been planned to rationalize the territory of the desert by Defense Forces and Oil Exploration Units. Prior to the commencement of the survey workshops have been exposed to be conducted in Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Bikaner. The methodologies, as per reports, have already been finalized one month before. It is hoped that the current survey will be much more comprehensive than the entire surveys conducted in the past.

The IUCN site states - The Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps) has been uplisted to Critically Endangered, the highest level of threat. Hunting, disturbance, habitat loss and fragmentation have all conspired to reduce this magnificent species to perhaps as few as 250 individuals.

Standing a metre in height and weighing in at nearly 15 kg, the Great Indian Bustard was once widespread across the grasslands of India and Pakistan but is now restricted to small and isolated fragments of remaining habitat.

“In an ever more crowded world, species that need lots of space, such as the Great Indian Bustard, are losing out. However, we are the ones who lose in the long run, as the services that nature provides us start to disappear,” said Dr Leon Bennun, BirdLife’s Director of Science and Policy.This year’s update brings the total number of threatened bird species to 1,253, an alarming 13% of the world total.

Key Words :Great Indian Bustard, Rajasthan,IUCN, disappear, threatened

Image Credit Flikr

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