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Gujarat to undertake census of Great Indian Bustard

Last Updated: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - 14:49

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat government will soon undertake a census of the Great Indian Bustard, one of the most critically endangered flying bird species in the world, to ascertain its exact population.

"The count of the Great Indian Bustard will be undertaken in January-February to know its population," Gujarat Principal Chief Wildlife Conservator of Forest (PCCF) C N Pandey said.

The exercise has been undertaken even in the past, Pandey said, adding that it is expected to give a realistic picture of the dwindling population of the species.
The survey count, Pandey said, will be undertaken by the state forest department, various scientific organisations, Non Government Organisations (NGOs) and nature clubs.

He said that in the last survey, 45-50 Great Indian Bustards were spotted in Kutch district of Gujarat.

"We are expecting the number of the species to rise in the current census. However, the count may not be an exact representation as the Great Indian Bustard keeps on moving locally within a radius of 50-100 km, making it difficult for surveyors to count their heads," he said.

"The actual count of the bird would be slightly more than what the survey report would generally indicate," he said.

Pandey, however, stated that the census would give a fair indication of whether the species is adapting to the changing habitat or not.
Though the Great Indian Bustard, as per International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world`s largest global environmental organisation, is built to survive in harsh weather conditions, they have been exterminated from almost 90 per cent of their former range owing to loss of habitat and poaching.

In June this year, the satellite tracking of GIB began under the aegis of Wildlife Institute of India to understand the movement of this rare bird and its preferred habitat.

GIB, which is amongst one of the largest flying bird species found in the world today, can easily be distinguished by its black crown on the forehead contrasting with the pale neck and head.

"The coastal grasslands of Abdasa and Mandvi talukas of Kutch district in Gujarat support some of its population. The other sanctuary with the species includes Naliya in Kutch," a Gujarat forest department official said.
The IUCN portal states that the species` total population (across India) was estimated at 300 in 2008 indicating that there are probably fewer than 250 mature ones remaining.

GIB is listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of India, 1972, and its global trade is prohibited.

Concerned over its rapidly deteriorating population, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests prepared a recovery programme in 2012, for three species of bustard, Great Indian Bustard, Bengal Florican and Lesser Florican.

First Published: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - 14:49
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