Wildlife & Biodiversity

Why is Great Indian Bustard laying 20 eggs such a big deal?

Great Indian Bustard, one of the heaviest flying birds of Indian grasslands, is endemic to India and is facing extinction

By DTE Staff
Published: Monday 22 August 2022

Great Indian Bustards (GIBs) in the Desert National Park (DNP) have laid around 20 eggs this breeding season and has astonished the DNP officials.

Collectively 4 female GIBs laid 2 eggs each which itself is a surprise considering this species of critically endangered bird usually lay only one egg.

According to the Desert National Park (DNP) officials, heavy conservation measures are fruitful at last. The GIB, one of the heaviest flying birds of Indian grasslands, is endemic to India and is facing extinction.

Less than 150 individuals of these birds persist in a few fragmented pockets of Rajasthan and Gujarat. As per the last count of the GIB in 2018, there were around 127 birds in the Desert National Park or the DNP in Rajasthan.

Excessive hunting, the decline of natural habitation and construction activities like electric posts are some of the main reasons for the decline of GIB. As part of attempts to prevent extension and to conserve eggs collected from the wild, The GIB breeding centre was established in 2019 in DNP.

Since then, 20 chicks from the eggs have been hatched in the breeding centre while 5 are underway. According to the former Divisional Forest Officer, Kamal Chaandrawal, the Park authorities had made the enclosure of about 18 km periphery with minimum human intervention, which was one of the reasons that the GIBs were able to lay eggs without any threat.

“This year there has been good rainfall leading to good growth of Sevan grass where the GIBs lay eggs. Because of the moisture and humidity, the number of insects and pests also rose leading to an increase in food for the big birds because of which this year they were able to lay 2 eggs.

Bustards usually lay only one egg in a breeding season,” said Ashish Vyas, deputy conservator of forests (DCF) in DNP. DNP is now trying to expand the enclosure to about 30 sq kms in an attempt to further strengthen the population of GIBs. The breeding season will last till October and the DNP authorities are hopeful that the birds will lay more eggs and that the population may have risen since the last count.

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