Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Firefly Bird Diverters’ to save the Great Indian Bustard (GIB)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Great Indian Bustard

Mains level : Not Much

The Environment Ministry along with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) India has come up with a unique initiative a “firefly bird diverter” for overhead power lines in areas where Great Indian Bustard (GIB) populations are found in the wild.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Which one of the following groups of animals belongs to the category of endangered species?

(a) Great Indian Bustard, Musk Deer, Red Panda, Asiatic Wild Ass

(b) Kashmir Stag, Cheetah, Blue Bull, Great Indian Bustard.

(c) Snow Leopard, Swamp Deer, Rhesus Monkey, Saras (Crane)

(d) Lion Tailed Macaque, Blue Bull, Hanuman Langur, Cheetah

Great Indian Bustard

  • The GIB is one of the heaviest flying birds and can weigh up to 15 kg which grows up to one metre in height.
  • In July 2011, the bird was categorised as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • It is considered the flagship grassland species, representing the health of the grassland ecology.
  • For long, conservationists have been demanding to secure this population, warning that the bird might get extinct in the coming decades.
  • It would become the first mega species to disappear from India after Cheetah in recent times.
  • Till the 1980s, about 1,500-2,000 Great Indian Bustards were spread throughout the western half of India, spanning eleven states.
  • However, with rampant hunting and declining grasslands, their population dwindled.

Bird Diverters

  • The diverters are called fireflies because they look like fireflies from a distance, shining on power lines in the night.
  • GIBs are one of the heaviest flying birds in India. Therefore, when they encounter these wires, they are unable to change the direction of their flight.
  • Death is most cases is due to impact with the wires and not due to electrocution.
  • The diverter will not only save GIB but other species of large birds, including migratory birds.

Why such a move?

  • GIB is one of the most critically threatened species in India, with less than 150 birds left in the wild.
  • A report has pointed out that power lines, especially high-voltage transmission lines with multiple overhead wires, are the most important current threat for GIBs in the Thar region.
  • They are causing unsustainably high mortality in about 15% of their population.
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