What is the News?
A group of hunters shot down two Great Indian Bustards(GIBs) in a protected area of southern Punjab’s Cholistan in Pakistan. This has left wildlife activists in India shocked and outraged.
Why is India Concerned?
- Firstly, the Grassland Habitat in Pakistan’s Cholistan desert is very similar to the habitat in Rajasthan’s Desert National Park(DNP). Where the Great Indian Bustard(GIB) was killed.
- Secondly, in these areas, the last remaining populations of Great Indian Bustard reside.
- Thirdly, Rajasthan shares the international border with Pakistan’s Sindh and Punjab provinces. The remaining Indian-bred GIBs may also fly across to Pakistan’s desert and become easy prey for the gun-toting poachers.
- Hence, the hunting of the GIB will not only drastically reduce India’s GIB population but will also affect the desert ecosystem.
Note: The hunting of the Houbara bustards in Pakistan has also led to an alarming decline in their numbers. It also has drastically reduced India’s share of annual winter migration of this bird.
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About Great Indian Bustard:
- The Great Indian Bustard is one of the heaviest flying birds in the world.
- Vegetation: It inhabits dry grasslands and scrublands on the Indian subcontinent.
- Flagship Species: It is the flagship grassland species, representing the health of the grassland ecology.
- Habitat: It is endemic to the Indian subcontinent. In India, the population confines mostly to Rajasthan and Gujarat.
- In Rajasthan also GIB’s population is less than 100. This accounts for 95% of its total world population.
- State Bird: GIB is the State bird of Rajasthan.
- Conservation Status:
- IUCN Red List: Critically Endangered
- CITES: Appendix I
- Wildlife (Protection) Act,1972: Schedule I
- Threats: The bird under constant threat due to a) Collision/ electrocution with power transmission lines b) Hunting (still prevalent in Pakistan) c) Irrigation and farming technology among others.
Initiatives for Protection of GIB:
- Great Indian Bustard Project: It was launched by the Rajasthan Government. It aims at the conservation of the remaining population of Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps) locally called Godawan.
- The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has included the Great Indian Bustard(GIB) under the Species Recovery Programme.
Source: The Hindu