Sunday, March 15, 2015

Great Indian Bustard Faces Threat of Extinction

Great Indian bustard

It has been two years since the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) made an announcement about establishing a special conservation program for the critically endangered great Indian bustard, which experts warn is faced by the threat of extinction. It is said that due to lack of funds, the central government has not made any progress at all on what many say is a crucial matter. The government of Gujarat had even given a recovery plan to the MoEF, but confessed that it is sitting on it because it does not have the money to finance the project. A senior official of the ministry admitted that this issue has been pending for long, but added that a meeting to examine it is anticipated this month. The ministry also confessed that the government of Gujarat had given a species recovery plan of 187.13 crore rupees for the great Indian bustard requesting financial assistance. Unfortunately, the requisite amount of money was not available under a centrally funded scheme known as Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats. The necessary need to protect the great Indian bustard through a national program was suggested in a meeting of the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) in June 2013 by a wildlife activist named Prerna Singh Bindra. In August 2014 and January, the standing committee of NBWL led by environment minister Prakash Javadekar held two respective meetings where the issue of protecting endangered species was shelved. Ironically, in both the meetings, the standing committee cleared several programs which could disturb the great Indian bustard's habitat in spite of the fact that some members of the committee clearly advised about the negative impact of such programs.
Environment minister Prakash Javadekar

How long must India wait in order to save its endangered species, especially when it comes to critically endangered ones like the great Indian bustard? This magnificent bird once numbered around 1,260 individuals in 1969 to 300 in 2008. Nowadays, there are no more than 250 of these birds confined to states such as Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan. Out of these states, Rajasthan holds the majority of the bustards with around 175 while Madhya Pradesh is believed to have fewer than ten birds. These figures indicate that the great Indian has, over the past decades, suffered tremendously from threats ranging from habitat destruction to poaching. And yet, despite the formulation of any recovery programs directed at saving the bustard, no action has been taken and no progress has been made due to lack of funds. Although the NBWL led by Minister Javadekar held meetings in order to save the great Indian bustard, it postponed the issue on saving this bird as well as endangered species in general. This clearly indicates that the environment ministry has avoided its responsibility as the protector of India's wildlife and that the government of India is clipping the ministry by further shrinking its insignificant budget for wildlife. The necessity to save a critically endangered species like the great Indian bustard is not being stressed enough and it seems that India as a whole is voluntarily letting one of its endemic species go extinct.

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