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  • Context (TH | HT): Supreme Court seeks centre’s views on balancing the preservation of Great Indian Bustard with India’s solar energy needs.

Great Indian Bustard()

  • The Great Indian bustard is a large bird with a horizontal body and long bare legs, giving it an ostrich-like appearance.
  • Endemic to the Indian subcontinent, they are one of the heaviest-flying birds in the world.
  • It is considered the flagship grassland species, representing the health of the grassland ecology.
  • They are the largest among the four bustard species (Houbara bustard, Lesser florican, Bengal florican & Great Indian Bustard) found in India.
  • They are primarily terrestrial birds. They spend most of their time on the ground with occasional flights to travel from one place to another.
  • They are diurnal birds, usually active in the early morning and evening hours.
  • It is the state bird of Rajasthan.

Great Indian Bustard

Distribution

  • They were formerly found across the Indian Subcontinent, but they are now locally extinct in 90% of its original range.
  • In India, they are found scattered throughout the Indian states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka.  
  • They inhabit dry and semi-dry grasslands with dispersed bushes and patches of scrub.

Great Indian Bustard range

Diet

  • They are omnivores, feeding on insects, grass seeds, berries, rodents and reptiles.
  • In cultivated areas, they feed on crops such as exposed groundnut, millets, & pods of legumes.

Physical features

  • They can easily be distinguished by their black crown on the forehead, contrasting with the pale neck and head.
  • Males have larger crowns as compared to the females.
  • Males and females are distinguished by the colour of their feathers.

Threats

  • Slow reproductive rate: It lays one egg every 1-2 years, and the success rate of these eggs under ideal situations is around 60-70%.
  • Collision with particularly high-voltage transmission lines.
  • Habitat loss/degradation due to development activities like mining, industries, wind turbines, and associated infrastructure growth.
  • Noise pollution interfering with the GIB’s mating call.
  • Hunting and poaching.

Conservation Status

Conservation Measures

  • Project Great Indian Bustard announced by Rajasthan Government in 2018.
  • Centres for breeding and hatching established in Jaisalmer and Kota.
  • Constitution of the Bustard Task Force and the development of the National Guidelines for Recovery of Resident Bustards.
  • Wildlife Institute of India (WII) launched the project Habitat Improvement and Conservation Breeding of Great Indian Bustard: An Integrated Approach” in collaboration with MoEFCC, State Forest Departments and NGO partners.
    • Objective: To build up captive population of Great Indian bustard and to release the chicks in the wild to increase the population.
  • MOEFCC provides financial assistance to the States/ UTs under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme: Development of Wildlife Habitats for conservation of wildlife, including for Great Indian Bustard.
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