Friday, September 16, 2011

Annual Great Indian Bustard Census Underway

Great Indian bustard

It has recently been announced that an annual census of the great Indian bustard will be carried out on September 18th in the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary of Solapur. It will be conducted by the Pune Wildlife Division, and will cover the Rehekuri Blackbuck Sanctuary, along with the Karmala and Nannaj Divisions of the bustard sanctuary. Since 2005, census figures showed that the numbers of bustards had shrunk significantly between 22 to 30 individuals. However, in 2010, figures indicated that the numbers had plummeted tremendously to just nine birds. According to chief conservator of forests M.K Rao, the census may not give the exact number of birds and may fluctuate owing to many factors. However, he did say that it will help in identifying areas visited by the birds so they can be developed as prime habitats. The census will be using a block count or point method to determine the birds' number. More than fifty points will be covered. A similar event last year brought around hundred volunteers.
Painting of bustards

This year's event will likely be seeing the same number. On the day before the census, a pre-census workshop set up by the GIB Foundation and the Pune Wildlife Division will prepare forest staff, participants, and volunteers for the event. According to Dr. Pramod Patil, founder of the GIB Foundation, the workshop covers the birds' identification, ecology, precautions, threats, and conservation. He further added that they will carry out audio-visual tests on identification for participants, and instructions will be provided as to not to disturb the birds and other wildlife. Dr. Patil even stated that he has put together a one-of-a-kind manual that provides information on bustard identification, male and female differentiation, and information on proofs such as feathers, droppings, etc.
An Indian stamp depicting bustards

In my opinion, this article clearly illustrates the first step in helping to revive the population of the great Indian bustard. It also gives a clear example about the purposes of a census. In this case, a census is not something to only determine the number of a particular species of animals. It also helps in the identification of areas that could be frequented by that species of animal. And in order to identify such areas, conservationists look for signs of evidence such as tracks, droppings, etc. to indicate the animal's presence. In this case, it is the bustard. Over the recent years, numbers of these birds had shrunk to a great deal. However, they received help from conservationists and locals in order to sustain their current population. Now, with this census underway soon, there is a good chance that these birds will remain in their current habitats provided that conservationists will give out the word to the locals about their existence.

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