After discovering that critically endangered Great Indian Bustards are being spotted outside the 2.03-sq km Kutch Bustard Sanctuary near Naliya in Abdasa taluka,forest officials have asked the revenue department to bring an additional 37 sq km land under the protected area.
Districts Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) D K Sharma said the department has also asked the Ministry of Environment and Forests to set up an eco-fragile zone as a buffer to the sanctuary while having earlier requesting the revenue department to stop allotting land-use change permission,mostly for farming,in the area.
Sharma,who recalls the trio of requests to have been made about two months ago,said the department has not noticed a decline in the birds 30-odd population in the sanctuary. He believes it remains stable. The bird census is progressing now,and we will be able to know where the population stands once the results are out, he said.
The CCF contends the International Union for the Conservation of Natures (IUCNs) critically endangered classification of the species is probably because of the decline in its overall population it is found in Rajasthan,Andhra Pradesh,Maharashtra,Uttar Pradesh,Madhya Pradesh,Karnataka and Sindh in Pakistan.
Meanwhile,birders from across the country continue to circulate a Save the Indian Bustard Campaign on the internet; the online petition addressed to Chief Minister Narendra Modi has gained over 1,600 signatories,from a little over a hundred on Sunday evening.
Started by the Kutch Ecological Research Centre,a division of The Corbett Foundation in Kutch,the petition says,A major breeding population of Indian Bustards thrives outside the protected area,in Abdasa taluka.
The areas outside this notified Protected Area serve as the breeding,display and wintering areas of these birds.
The population estimates reveal an estimated population of around 30 birds in Kutch out of the total of less than 300 birds surviving in India today, it says.