In a bid to boost the wildlife conservation programme in the state,the Gujarat government has allotted 1,500 hectares land in Kutch district for developing a habitat for the critically endangered Great Indian Bustard (GIB).
We have allotted 1,500 hectares revenue land to the forest department recently for conservation of GIB, said Kutch district collector M Thennarasan. This has been done on request of the forest department,he added.
The land has been allotted near the Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary spread across two sq km area in Nalia taluka,which is also considered to be a prime breeding ground of this endangered species. As per the last census in 2007,there were 47 bustards in the sanctuary.
Since the Bustards like grassland we plan to develop natural grass land in the area, said Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) D K Sharma.
The area allotted is spoiled presently due to agriculture activity and human interference. We would first stop any kind of agriculture and (then) develop grassland,besides (providing) any other protection required, he said.
Because GIBs are very shy and sensitive birds and get disturbed due even slightest movement,a need was felt to increase the area of the sanctuary,Sharma said. We also plan to propose to the government of India to declare this area as eco-fragile zone under the Environment Protection Act, he added.
Forest officials said that further demand for over 3,500 hectares land for the same purpose is still under consideration.
GIB was up-listed to Critically Endangered, the highest level of threat,by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in June this year. According to IUCN,hunting,disturbance,habitat loss and fragmentation have all conspired to reduce this magnificent species to perhaps as few as 250.
A recent report by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) said that population of the GIB has been dwindling very fast and the bustards have disappeared from about 90 per cent of its range,while about 75 per cent decline has been observed within three generation time scale.
Standing a metre in height and weighing nearly 15 kg,GIB was once found in a large number across the grasslands of India and Pakistan,but is now restricted to small and isolated fragments of the remaining habitat. Their highest living number is found in Rajasthan,followed by Gujarat.