Sunday, February 19, 2012

Survey Reveals Two Great Indian Bustards Alive in Ajmer

A great Indian bustard in Rajasthan

A recent census conducted in the Sokhliya region of Rajasthan's Ajmer district revealed that only two great Indian bustards were found alive. The discovery shocked the forest department, since the bustard is the state bird of Rajasthan. It has been found that mining activities being carried out in the area forced the birds to abandon the region, whose numbers were once estimated to be 72 in 1990. By 2004, the number had declined to 24 birds. According to Mahendra Vikram Singh, president of Bird Conservation Society, the grassland of the Sokhliya is a natural habitat for them and they even stay there during the breeding season. Twenty years ago, most of the birds were sighted in the region while others were seen near the cities of Kota and Pune. But since that time, mining companies in the region were given about 85 leases, most operating illegally. Bhola Rawat, a former sarpanch of a nearby village, stated that the companies frequently use dynamite and other explosives and possibly this is causing the birds to disappear. Four years ago, the forest department attempted to make the area a reserve forest in order to put an end to mining and other activities. Officials sent a letter of their proposal to the BJP, but it was turned down. The reason was that the mining lobby became active at that time.

This article clearly highlights one of the key hotspots in India being exploited, forcing its iconic species to disappear. In this case, it is the great Indian bustard. Over the period of time, this magnificent bird has suffered tremendously by human encroachment all over India, including Rajasthan where it is considered to be a state bird. But what really appalls me is that the mining companies operating in the region are illegal, yet most are benefitting from the BJP having turned down a proposal to halt them simply because the lobby is active. In my opinion, this situation clearly points out the corruption that is fueling our nation with misery. Not only is the bustard affected, but also the people living alongside the bird. In the Sokhliya region, there are 76 villages living in grasslands that are turning into deserts with debris of illegal mining. One would imagine how the lives of villagers are affected as this ongoing environmental catastrophe continues. This is why it is crucial to take a stand against illegal mining because it is taking toll of nearly every form of natural habitat in India, and is not only affecting the wildlife but also the people living near it.

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