Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Grassland Area Included in the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary

Great Indian bustard

It has been recently announced that the Gangewadi grassland area on the boundary of Maharashtra's Solapur and Osmanabad districts has been notified and included in the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary. The 198-hectare grassland is now added to the 1,222.61 square kilometer area of the sanctuary. The goal is to conserve and protect these critically endangered birds numbering around just 300 individuals. A census last year recorded eleven bustards in the sanctuary. According to M.K Rao, chief conservator forest of Pune, the addition of this grassland area will help in habitat management, monitoring, and lead to better conservation and protection of the great Indian bustard. He further added that the area will be restored just like the sanctuary itself.
Tropical grassland habitat in Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary

Pramod Patil, director of the Great Indian Bustard Foundation, stated that the grassland is an ideal habitat for these birds and can be used as a core breeding area. He further added at that around 148 species of birds have been seen in and around the area. Among them are painted storks, Oriental darters, white ibises, and pallid harriers. In an area adjoining Gangewadi is the Kumbhari Reservoir, which has breeding colonies for birds like the storks, Eurasian spoonbills, little cormorants, and the white ibises. In addition to that, a percolation tank inside the area is a foraging site for these for these birds during the breeding season. There is also a good deal of mammalian species in this area too. These include the Indian wolf, fox, jackal, black-naped hare, jungle cat, blackbuck, four-horned antelope, gray mongoose, Indian pangolin, wild boar, and the northern palm squirrel. Among the reptile species include the fan-throated lizard, Oriental garden lizard, many-keeled grass skink, Oriental rat snake, Russell's viper, and the common Indian monitor.
The painted stork is one of many birds in the Gangewadi area included as part of the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary

I feel very proud by the fact that the Great Indian bustard sanctuary is being expanded with the inclusion of this grassland area. In addition to that, this area is home to several other species of India's birds, mammals, and reptiles which will contribute to the biodiversity of the sanctuary. However, I also feel that it is important to focus on the conservation of the critically endangered bustards in the sanctuary. Mr. Patil stated that action is needed to conserve these birds in the Gangewadi area. This includes habitat restoration, uprooting of trees, habitat protection, monitoring and researching throughout the year, waterhole census, increase in bustard census points, and community involvement in the conservation efforts. These birds number around 300 individuals in India, and are in a great need of help.

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