Karera sanctuary set to close as `golden bird` visits no more

With the disappearance of the magnificent Great Indian Bustard, it doesn`t feel like good news on Earth Day Thursday as the Karera sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh will no longer be a wildlife lovers hotspot.

New Delhi: With the disappearance of the
magnificent Great Indian Bustard, it doesn`t feel like good
news on Earth Day Thursday as the Karera sanctuary in Madhya
Pradesh will no longer be a wildlife lovers hotspot.

Following Centre`s approval recently of a state
government`s proposal for denotification the region,
comprising nearly 32 villages in and around the area, would be
set free for villagers to carry out sale and purchase of land
as well as other commercial activities.

The National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) chaired by
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh in a recent meeting
approved the state government`s proposal to denotify the
sanctuary, after its officials said that the bustards were not
sighted since 1995 and that most of the land inside the
sanctuary sprawling over 202 sq km was private land and people
were facing lot of problems.

"Notified in 1981, the sanctuary in Shivpuri does not
have an inch of forest land. As much as 146.66 sq km is
private land and the rest is revenue. However, since they live
inside the sanctuary, the villagers can`t sell their lands and
are prohibited from activities like digging and transporting
material," Chief Wildlife Warden, R S Negi said.

However, the approval has come with a rider with the
Board asking the state government to declare Dihaliya lake and
a portion of adjacent revenue land to be declared as
sanctuary and probe into the reasons for the disappearance of
the birds, as recommended by Mahendra Vyas, Member of
Rationalisation Committee.

Indian bustard,locally known as the `son chidiya` or
golden bird is the most endangered member of the bustard
family in the world and the total population in wild may not
exceed 700.

Poaching and habitat deterioration are the two main
causes for the drastic decline of the bird which is now
limited to Desert National Park (Rajasthan) and the
Lala-Parjau sanctuary in western Kutch (Gujarat).

Wildlife expert and Board member, M K Ranjisinh noted
that there was no earlier precedence of total denotification
of a protected area and therefore, before a particular area is
denotified, the authorities should first notify equivalent
area where there is a sizable population of Great Indian
Bustards.

A survey has also been sought to ascertain present
status and distribution of status of the endangered species,
especially to determine if there were any birds inhabiting in
any areas outside Protected Areas and if so, these would be
established as a Protected Area including expansion of
existing Protected Areas or declaration of Conservation
Reserves.

One of the mandate of the survey team is to find if
there are no bustards existing outside Protected Areas or none
left in Madhya Pradesh, an area equal to the area to be
denotified in Karera Wildlife Sanctuary will be added to the
existing Protected Area network of the State.

Denotification will only be permitted if the
equivalent area is added to Protected Area network of the
State, the Board said.

But what is concerning wildlife experts now is the
fate of the ungulates like black bucks and others species in
the sanctuary in Shivpuri who too, they say, face threat of
extinction.

"There are quite a good number of black bucks and
other ungulates. What will happen to them if the villagers are
allowed to sell and purchase the land," questions the World
Wildlife Fund (WWF).

PTI

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