- Great Indian Bustard (GIB) is one of the heaviest flying birds endemic to the Indian subcontinent.
- Protection Status: IUCN Red List: Critically Endangered; CITES: Appendix I; Wildlife Protection Act (1972): Schedule I.
- Historically, the great Indian bustard was distributed throughout Western India, spanning 11 states, as well as parts of Pakistan. Today, its population is confined mostly to Rajasthan and Gujarat. Small populations occur in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
- The biggest threat to this species is hunting, which is still prevalent in Pakistan. This is followed by occasional poaching outside Protected Areas, collisions with high tension electric wires, fast moving vehicles and free-ranging dogs in villages.
- Other threats include habitat loss and alteration as a result of widespread agricultural expansion and mechanized farming, infrastructural development such as irrigation, roads, electric poles, as well as mining and industrialization.
- The only opportunity to potentially recover this species remains in the Thar landscape of Rajasthan, where the birds are now limited to two extant populations – one inside Desert (National Park) Sanctuary near Jaisalmer, and the second population located in the grasslands and agricultural lands of Pokhran and Ramdeora.
- The Great Indian Bustard has also been identified as one of the species for the recovery programme for critically endangered species (Refer Pulse February 2021 edition) of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
Why in News?
- As per the studies conducted by Wildlife Institute of India, there are around 150 Great Indian Bustards left across the country which includes about 128 birds in Rajasthan and less than 10 birds each in the States of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
- Great Indian Bustards has been identified for conservation efforts under the component ‘Species Recovery Programme’ of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS)-Development of Wildlife Habitat.
- Financial and technical assistance is provided to the State/Union Territory Governments under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Development of Wildlife Habitat for providing better protection to Great Indian Bustard and its habitat.