Only one male Great Indian Bustard is left in Gujarat, Down to Earth magazine reported quoting experts from the Wildlife Institute of India and the Bombay Natural History Society. The surviving bird is currently in Gujarat’s Kutch district.
“Over the last few years, no male breeding bird has been seen in and around the Naliya area in Kutch, which is the only place in Gujarat where the bird is found,” Wildlife Institute of India scientist Sutirtha Dutta said.
Her counterpart at the Bombay Natural History Society, veteran scientist Asad Rahmani, confirmed the finding. “There are a couple of females and one male in the area,” Rahmani said.
The scientists have blamed the situation on “callousness and negligence of the government and forest department”.
Dutta said the installation of power lines in Gujarat was responsible for the decline in the bird’s population to a great extent. “In Kutch, the number of GIBs had reduced prior to independence due to excessive hunting,” Dutta told the magazine. “Post-independence, a change in agri-practices led to more decimation. And in the past few years, power lines finished the rest. Many of the power lines belong to Gujarat Energy Transmission Corporation. Many of the windmills connected to the power lines belong to Suzlon. While power lines cause the deaths of both, male and female birds, males, due to their being larger, heavier and slower in flight, fall prey more to power lines.”
Rahmani said there were 11 males in the area 15 years ago, which could have been protected from poaching and power lines.
Dutta said that the only viable option to preserve the species is currently unavailable. “We could bring this sub-adult into captivity but that is not possible right now as the captive breeding programme for the GIB, to be conducted jointly by the Rajasthan government, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the WII, has not started yet. But it will be a year till proper captive breeding facilities are built. Till then, we can only hope that this bird grows up and does not fall prey to power lines,” said Dutta.
The Wildlife Institute of India scientist said that the female population, while relatively larger, is also fast depleting.
Corrections and clarifications: The story has been edited to clarify that only one Great Indian Bustard remains in Gujarat while there are several such birds left in India. Earlier, it mentioned that only one bird was surviving in India.