|A great Indian bustard|
The latest great Indian bustard census conducted in Maharashtra has showed an increase from nine to thirteen birds in the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary. This census was composed by the GIB Foundation and the Pune Wildlife Division covering hot spots like the Rehkuri Blackbuck Sanctuary, and the Karmala and Nannaj divisions of the Bustard Sanctuary in Solapur. According to experts, the results were a sign of hope for Maharashtra which is now an indicator state for the existence of these birds. They also felt that a thorough search needs to be put into action for new habitats for the birds. Although the find seemed like good news, an in-depth look by Dr. Pramod Patil uncovered an unbalanced sex ratio where only three birds out of the thirteen counted were males. Dr. Patil, who is the conservation biologist and director of the GIB Foundation, had written and assembled a census manual from which the exercise was based off. It detailed important keys in bustard conservation such as its identification, male and female differentiation, and information on indirect evidences such as feathers and droppings. Dr. Patil also added that Maharashtra has become an indicator state, in which the birds bear maximum pressure from humans as the grasslands where they live are densely populated.
I'm also glad to see that there is some hope for the great Indian bustard, but I also feel that this recent count is an indicator that the population is still critical. With just three males out of the thirteen birds, there is less chance of reproduction in order to increase the populations. This is why it is crucial to take further measures in protecting the populations of these birds. Dr. Asad Rahmani, the director of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and an expert on bustard conservation, stated that the Environment Ministry should "look beyond just tigers." He further stressed that there should be a "Project Bustard on the lines of Project Tiger to protect the species." I happen to strongly agree with Dr. Rahmani's statement. India is one of the few places in this world where there is a rich diversity of wildlife. And within this diversity, there is not one wild animal that is considered to be special over another. Every creature is unique in its own way, and each plays a major role in sustaining the ecosystem of the subcontinent. Therefore, every wild creature should be equally protected by any means necessary. Like the bustard, leopards in India are also not receiving much protection compared to their larger cousins, the tigers. This is why many are ruthlessly poached for their pelts and most of the cases go unreported. This was especially the case in the state of Uttarakhand. Just because an animal that is fully adapted to change in habitat does not mean it should be left on its own without any protection. The bustard's range, compared to the leopard's, is limited yet it has been facing an onslaught of threats ranging from grazing pressure to human encroachment. As a person of Indian origin, I personally believe that if no wild creature, regardless of its status, is unprotected, the motherland will lose its own status as being one of the world's most biodiverse regions on our planet.
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