Conservationists want 3,000-hct land for Bustard conservation

Last Updated: Monday, January 10, 2011 - 19:31

Ahmedabad: Conservationists want about 3,000
hectares of revenue land near the Bustard Sanctuary in Kutch
district to be converted into forest land to save the
endangered Great Indian Bustard.

"We have written to the revenue department to convert the
revenue land adjoining the Bustard Sanctuary (in Naliya taluka
of Kutch) to forest land which could be used for conservation
of the Great Indian Bustard (GIB). We are yet to get any reply
from revenue department with regard to the letter," Chief
Conservator of Forests, Kutch D K Sharma said.

District Forest officer (DFO), in charge of the Bustard
Sanctuary, D T Vasavda said that they have asked for the 3,000
hectare grassland, as it is a prime breeding ground for the
GIB, an endangered species listed in Schedule I of the Wild
Life Protection Act.

"The land which we have asked for is in Naliya and was
previously with the Gujarat Energy Development Agency (GEDA),
which had done plantation in some part, but most of it is
still grassland," Vasavada said.

He said declaring the grassland as protected area would
help in conservation of the GIB which is a shy creature and
hard to spot. Also, the conservation was essential as GIB lays
only one egg at a time during the breeding season in
June-July.

Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had also
written to the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to convert
the revenue land to forest land for conservation of the GIB
and thereby prevent its extinction from Gujarat.

The letter from Ramesh to the Gujarat CM for
conservation of GIB has given a boost to our efforts to get
the grassland from the revenue department," Vasavada said,
adding he was hopeful of a positive outcome.

Ramesh had said in the letter to Modi in June last year
that conversationalist and researchers working in Kutch have
brought to his attention the opening of area in Abdasa
grassland in Naliya, a prime breeding ground for GIB, for
agriculture.

"I am writing to request you to immediately intervene
and prevent the diversion of revenue gauchar land to
agriculture, and to ensure that the district officials support
the Naliya conservation activities," Ramesh wrote.

"If we do not intervene, the possibility of the GIB
going extinct in Gujarat is very high and real," the Union
Minister had said.

According to Vasavada there are 47 GIB, as per last
census of 2007, in the Bustard Sanctuary. The sanctuary that
was notified in 1992 is currently spread over 202 hectares of
land.

Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps) is found in India and
the adjoining regions of Pakistan. It is a large bird with a
horizontal body and long bare legs giving it an ostrich like
appearance. This bird is among the heaviest of the flying
birds.

In India, they are found in Rajasthan and Gujarat.

The Desert National Park (DNP), Rajasthan is the
biggest of GIB sanctuaries. The second main protected hotspot
of their survival is the Bustard Sanctuary in Naliya, Kutch.

Listed in Schedule-I of the Wildlife Protection Act
1972 (India), the GIB is classified as `endangered` on the
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List
2002.

PTI




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