From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Great Indian Bustard
Mains level : Not Much
The Supreme Court sought the government’s response about evolving a ‘Project Great Indian Bustard’ conservation program like the ‘Project Tiger’ to bring attention to the peril faced by the critically endangered bird species.
Great Indian Bustards
- GIBs are the largest among the four bustard species found in India, the other three being MacQueen’s bustard, lesser florican, and the Bengal florican.
- GIBs’ historic range included much of the Indian sub-continent but it has now shrunken to just 10 percent of it. Among the heaviest birds with flight, GIBs prefer grasslands as their habitats.
- GIBs are considered the flagship bird species of grassland.
On the brink of extinction
- The GIB population in India had fallen to just 150.
- Pakistan is also believed to host a few GIBs and yet openly supports their hunting.
- Birdlife International: uplisted from Endangered to Critically Endangered (2011)
- Protection under CITES: Appendix I
- IUCN status: Critically Endangered
- Protection under Wildlife (Protection) Act: Schedule I
- Overhead power transmission
- Poor vision: Due to their poor frontal vision, can’t detect powerlines in time and their weight makes in-flight quick maneuvers difficult.
- Windmills: Coincidentally, Kutch and Thar desert are the places that have witnessed the creation of huge renewable energy infrastructure.
- Noise pollution: Noise affects the mating and courtship practices of the GIB.
- Changes in the landscape: by way of farmers cultivating their land, which otherwise used to remain fallow due to frequent droughts in Kutch.
- Cultivation changes: Cultivation of cotton and wheat instead of pulses and fodder are also cited as reasons for falling GIB numbers.
Supreme Court’s intervention
- The Supreme Court has ordered that all overhead power transmission lines in core and potential GIB habitats in Rajasthan and Gujarat should be undergrounded.
- The SC also formed a three-member committee to help power companies comply with the order.
- In 2015, the Central government launched the GIB species recovery program.
- Under the program, the WII and Rajasthan Forest departments have jointly set up conservation breeding centers where GIB eggs are harvested from the wild.
- They have been incubated artificially and hatchlings raised in a controlled environment.
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