Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Rajasthan Aims to Save the Great Indian Bustard and Reintroduce the Siberian Crane

Great Indian bustard

It has been recently reported that the state government of Rajasthan has announced a major plan to save its state bird: the great Indian bustard. The plan, which is titled "Project Great Indian Bustard", is focused towards the conservation of these critically endangered birds. The government declared an instantaneous release of Rs. 12.90 crore for the project, while more assets would be released every year. It has also constructed a "recovery plan for critically endangered species" under the integrated development of wildlife habitat for the conservation of the bustards. The proposal has been sent to the Union Ministry of Forest and Environment. And until the ministry gives an approval, the forest department would work for the operation of  Project Great Indian Bustard. Under this project, a task force would be established consisting of local public representatives and wildlife experts. The forest department has already built up enclosures in a 2500-hectare area at Ramdeora and Saunkhalia areas of Desert National Park in Rajasthan's Jaisalmer district. Forest and environment minister Bina Kak has called for lineup of two range officers and regular surveying of areas where the bustards are found. In addition to enclosure establishment, the forest department would also cultivate "inviolate space" on an area of 2000 hectares and concentrate on water spots and security infrastructure. In addition, extra vehicles would be given to the staff for monitoring to investigate poaching.
Siberian cranes

In another event, the forest department is going to bring back Siberian cranes in Keoladeo Ghana National Park in Bharatpur district. The goal is to establish a semi-captive Siberian crane center for visitors to see the birds, which once congregated in large numbers during winter months. Nowadays, the cranes do not visit a single area in India. The plan has been postponed for the past year, but now has been sent to the National Wildlife Board for approval. According to the plan, six Siberian cranes will be reintroduced to Keoladeo Ghana National Park from Belgium and kept in semi-captive conditions for display in natural environments. A meeting for the abstract proposal and site selection was set up in February this year at the national park. It was decided that the cranes should be isolated for at least 45 days for which a quarantine facility in the park's nursery area would have to be established. It was announced that a facility of 100x100 feet and six feet high would be developed. The proposal has been given an approval by the state wildlife advisory board and sent to the National Wildlife Board for a final approval.

I'm extremely proud and happy that the state of Rajasthan has taken tremendous steps regarding the conservation of these two magnificent species of birds. The great Indian bustard has disappeared from more than ninety percent of its former range throughout India, due to threats ranging from poaching and habitat destruction to lack of protection of nesting sites, missing support from local communities, and lack of organization between forest departments in their habitats. Recent wildlife census figures recorded only 200 bustards in six states: Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan. Now, it appears that there seems to be a light of hope as the state of Rajasthan has proposed a plan to bring it from the brink of extinction. Similarly, the Siberian crane may be facing a similar future since it was last seen in 2001. I very much hope that the National Wildlife Board would approve of these two proposed projects intended on saving and conserving these two species of birds. It would be the only chance of hope for the people of Rajasthan and India to see these birds bounce back from extinction. Furthermore, I feel that this proposal to save the bustard should also be taken as an inspiration and a wake-up call by state governments in five other states above to conduct similar initiatives to further bolster the efforts to save the great Indian bustard after years of human-induced threats.

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