Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Sunday, November 17, 2019

Less than 8 Great Indian Bustards left in Maharashtra - WII

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nagpur: At a time when wildlife buffs are fighting to save only tigers, less than eight Great Indian Bustards (GIBs), which has equal protection status like tigers, have been left in Maharashtra. 

 

 

A decade ago, there were 35 GIBs in Maharashtra with 10 in Vidarbha region. The fact has come to light in a survey report titled ‘Status of GIB & associated species in Maharashtra 2018’ by Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun. 

 

 

The report, authored by principal investigator Dr Bilal Habib, co-investigators Dr Gautam Talukdar & Dr R Suresh Kumar, also reveals that the population of associated species like black bucks in potential GIB habitat was 37,690 and that of chinkara 1,481. 

 

 

In order to ascertain status of GIB and its potential habitat in Maharashtra, a landscape level survey was conducted from September 25 to 30, 2017 by WII in collaboration with forest department. The report was submitted last week. Out of 1,401 respondents 72 confirmed GIB presence in their area. 

 

 

Since the present status of GIB is not known beyond the designated bustard areas, a probability distribution map for GIB covering an area of 55,000sqkm was developed using locations of 3 GIBs tagged by WII earlier across the landscape to survey potential habitat in Maharashtra. 

 

 

Habib said, “This survey revealed the status of GIB, blackbuck and chinkara in potential GIB habitat which is mostly in human dominated landscape. A systematic survey was conducted in 372 grids of 12x12km across the state. Vehicle based species and habitat survey were conducted by 31 teams. 

 

 

Grids were surveyed along road trails in a slow moving vehicle. At every 1km interval along transects, habitat characteristics that potentially influence species distributions were recorded. “To overcome the issue of low detection owing to very low population size and their ecology, a blind test using life-size GIB dummies was conducted to know the possibility of detection in sampling grids by the team,” said Habib. 

 

 

The dummies were placed in the sampling grids by a separate team. The sampling team was unaware of the location of dummy GIB. Questionnaire survey was conducted by opportunistically interviewing up to three residents per grid with a semi-structured questionnaire. 

 

 

Respondents were asked whether they knew or could identify the bird, and about reports or sightings of GIB in their vicinity. Information about the occurrence of associated species from these areas was also collected. A total of 238 groups of blackbuck were recorded across 2,117 line transects covering a distance of 6436km. “These grids constituted 11 clusters spread across 12 forest divisions of Maharashtra covering an area of 12,528sqkm dominated by kharif crops and open areas. Out of the 30 GIB dummies placed, only four were detected by respective teams. Based on detection probability and occupancy of dummy life-size GIB, it was concluded that less than 8 GIBs must be there in Maharashtra. 

 

 

The report states rapid conversion of grasslands and shrub lands into agriculture lands, excessive use of insecticides and pesticides, overgrazing and human disturbance are major contributing factors in the decline of GIB populations. 

 

 

GIBs were once distributed throughout the grasslands of Northern India and the Deccan Landscape in around 11 states, but are now confined to only 7 states with less than 250 individuals. 

 

 

PCCF (wildlife) AK Misra said, “We will survey the 11 identified clusters in a more rigorous way. Besides, awareness raising programs will be initiated and measures will be taken to protect traditional agricultural practices.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: The Times of India