From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Great Indian Bustards
Mains level : Species Recovery Programme
May go extinct very soon
- The Great Indian Bustard (GIB) is one of the few species that the Government of India has included in its ‘recovery programme for critically endangered species’.
- With less than 200 GIBs remaining in the world, most of them found in Rajasthan’s ‘Desert National Park’.
- We are on the brink of forever losing a majestic bird species, which was once a strong contender to be declared as India’s National Bird.
Various threats to GIBs
I. General threats to GIB
- Habitat loss & fragmentation, change of land use pattern, desertification, ill-thought plantation of exotic & invasive species in grassland ecosystems are some of the generic causes.
- Neglect of state institutions due to classification of ‘grasslands’ as ‘wastelands’, conversion of grasslands to agriculture lands due to increasing irrigation potential and decline of nature/GIB-friendly agrarian practices, are all commonly and correctly blamed for the steady decline in India’s GIB population.
II. Role of Noise Pollution
- Noise pollution affects the mating and courtship practices of the GIB.
- The male GIB inflates his ‘gular’ pouch (near the neck) which almost touches the ground, in order to produce a large booming sound which reverberates across the grassland.
- The male GIB does this to attract GIB females and to inform them of his exact location in the vast expanse of the grassland.
- Thus, the sound of the male GIB should be loud enough to transcend the walls of the sanctuary and be audible to female GIBs in the fields nearby.
- The noise generated by human activities, whether be it by vehicles, tractors, music during processions, firecrackers, may interfere with the GIB’s mating call and drown it out.
III. Other threats
- The rate of reproduction amongst GIBs is very low; the female GIB lays only one egg per year.
- This solitary egg is under threat from natural predators of the grasslands such as jackals, hyenas or foxes or invasive species such as crows or feral dogs.
- In such a scenario, every opportunity the GIBs lose to mate pushes the species closer to extinction.
- The best course of action to guarantee the GIB’s revival, is to remove impediments in its natural breeding cycle, including noise barriers.
- Along with all other measures to revive GIB numbers, the aspect of regulating noise pollution levels needs to be incorporated.
- This may include techno-fixes such as retro-fitting vehicles/tractors in the area with advanced ‘super-quiet’ silencers.
- We can co-ordinate with the people and their local leaders to ensure that any procession or ceremony during the pre-monsoon & monsoon period would not make use of high noise making equipment.
- Unless the villagers’ basic developmental aspirations are linked & simultaneously fulfilled hand-in-hand with GIB conservation, it would be incorrect to expect their full-fledged support to this cause.
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