Mumbai: A latest report by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has revealed that Maharashtra may have less than eight Great Indian Bustards (GIB) currently. With the number of GIBs pegged so low in a recent survey, the forest department will be focusing on measures to conserve the endangered bird species.
Officials have stated that the count of GIB was around 30, decades ago. The forest department will be focusing on protecting the grasslands and monitor the eleven clusters across the state, which have been identified as the species' habitat. Moreover it will also be focusing on preventing fire in these areas.
The GIB is listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and listed as an endangered species. A report on potential habitat by the WII, in collaboration with the state forest department, was recently released and it stated that during a survey in September 2017, out of 1,401 respondents, 72 confirmed that they have spotted the bird in their area. “While doing the survey, the GIB was not found. However, we had kept dummy birds throughout an area of 55,000 sq km to know the detection rate of these species. Only 13 per cent of the dummy birds could be identified during the survey, leading to the conclusion that less than eight GIB are there in the state,” said M.K. Rao, additional principal chief conservator of forest (Wildlife West).
“We had carried out radio telemetry survey for two years, where we found that the bird is moving beyond the landscape of GIB sanctuary at Solapur. Now we have identified 11 clusters as GIB’s potential habitats, which we will be intensively monitoring and manage the grasslands habitats inside and outside the forest areas. In the forest areas, we will be laying fire lines in these areas to prevent fire incidents,” added Mr. Rao.
The department has instructed forest guards to implement key parameters in GIB areas where the grass height will be maintained between 20 cm to 40 cm.