On the brink of extinction

 
Published: Sunday 31 October 1993

-- Despite its highly protected status, the Great Indian Bustard may soon become extinct. The bustard has been fast losing its grasslands habitat -- spread over about 250 sq km -- and is also facing threat from poachers, particularly in Rajasthan.

According to grassland ecologist Asad Rahmani of the Centre of Wildlife and Ornithology, Aligarh Muslim University, who conducted a survey in bustard sanctuaries in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, the birds numbered about 1,000 in the mid-1980s. But "it is estimated that the bustard population has now decreased by more than 50 per cent."

Surprisingly, the greatest threat to the bird is in the Karera and Ghati Gaon sanctuaries in Madhya Pradesh, which were especially set up as bustard protection areas. Rahmani recommends launching a "Project Bustard" on the lines of "Project Tiger" to save the bustard, which is prized as being unique to India.

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