Survival odds for the Great Indian Bustard just got better

Published: 27 December, 2013 07:06 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav |

Scientists tie transmitter to a bird in Chandrapur; say data gleaned from its movement will give valuable insights into the habitat favourable for conserving the endangered bird

Ornithographers at the Nannaj Wildlife Sanctuary (NWS) near Solapur, home to the Great Indian Bustard (GIB), see hope for the endangered species of bird, one they have been entrusted to ensure does not become a historical fact.

Scientists tie the transmitter to a male Great Indian Bustard at Ashti village in Chandrapur district

In order to save the imperiled bird and help in its conservation, a male bustard was fitted with a transmitter on Christmas evening at Ashti village, Warora taluka, Chandrapur district. Scientists will now closely monitor its movements, and the information they glean through the research will be used in creating a favourable ecology for the bird to thrive.

The experiment was carried out by Dr Bilal Habib and his team from the Wildlife Institute of India, in collaboration with the state forest department. The NWS, which is located roughly 22 km from Solapur, is among the handful of places in the state where the rare bird can be spotted. The state government had declared it a GIB sanctuary in 1979 to conserve the species. “Even after it was declared a GIB sanctuary, the forest department was not able to do much to save the bird,” said a forest official, requesting anonymity.

First in world
“This is the first case in the whole world that a transmitter has been attached to a GIB. The bird resumed normal activity after release. The experiment is sponsored by the state’s CAMPA funds,” said another officials of the forest department. The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority, or CAMPA, was set up by the government in 2009 for wildlife management and preservation of natural environment, as per the environment ministry’s guidelines.

“The study will give critical information about the ecology and habitat essential for the bird’s conservation. It will also help increase the bustard population in Nannaj,” said Sunil Limaye, chief conservator of forests (Pune Wildlife). The data that will be gathered from this research will also help the officials of the NWS in developing the appropriate ecology for this bird. At present, there are around 20-25 Great Indian Bustards left in Maharashtra. A few months ago, three were sighted in Nannaj. The Indian Bustard, also known as maldhok in Marathi, is endangered.

Expert talk
Raju Kasambe, project manger, Important Bird Area Programme, Bombay Natural History Society, said, “The transmitter will throw light on very crucial information like where the GIB disappears after the breeding season between December and May. This will also help in obtaining information about whether the bird is hunted during its migration period. The data that will be garnered from this research will help us set up a conducive and adequate environment for this critically endangered species.”

Who is Dr Bilal Habib?
He is a scientist at the Wildlife Institute of India, under the Depart-ment of Animal Ecology. Earlier this year, Dr Habib, a PhD in Wildlife Sciences, won the UNESCO Young Scientists Award for developing an efficient ecological monitoring programme. 

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