In the first such study, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has got the record of the Great India Bustard (GIB) - a critically endangered bird with a total population of 200 in the world - with the help of satellite telemetry. The bird was tagged in January last year at Nannaj Bustard Sanctuary in Maharashtra. In the first nine months, the bird flew around 2060 locations flying for 7774 km. Moreover, after directions from environment ministry, WII will develop a National Conservation Breeding Centre in Rajashtan for the bird and will also grow it in captivity for 25-30 before it is released in protected habitats. 75% of GIB are found in Thar region of Rajasthan, and remaining in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnatka and Andhra Pardesh. The species disappeared from Madhya Pardesh in early 90s'.
Bilal Habib, scientist with WII said, "In Maharashtra, the state government established the GIB Sanctuary in 1979 in Solapur and Ahmadnagar districts. After an initial rise, their numbers declined post 1990. At present there are around 10-12 GIBs'. To boost their conservation, the first bird, male, was tagged with satellite telemetry on April 17 last year at Nannaj Bustard Sanctuary in Maharashtra."
He said, the bird is still active and the data is available about its flight of 7774 km which gave astounding revelations about this mysterious bird. "The tagged bird has spent four months within protected areas (PA) for breeding . And remaining outside which is spared land left by farmers for grazing their livestock and mostly rain fed and, not used for intensive farming. "We need to adopt multi-pronged exercise whereby we protect and conserve habitats within and outside the PAs' across the landscape frequented by GIBs'. The GIB lost to the peacock in the race to become national bird of India. Now it is on the verge of extinction due to modernization of agriculture praces and rapid infrastructural developments, " said Habib.
Director of Bombay Natural History Society, Deepak Apte said, "Lots of GIBs' die due to collision with power lines, solar and wind mills in their habitats. We need to underground the power lines and, also curb the green energy mechanism from the core habitat of GIBs'."
According to Sudip Dutta, WII researcher, GIB declined rapidly due to excessive hunting, growth of intensive agriculture, development activities such as industries leading to their habitat degradation, threat of feral dogs and native predators. GIB female hatches one egg after two to three year and, their mortality rate is 60% in the first year.
YV Jhala, WII scientist said, "Environment ministry has mandated WII to develop and run National Conservation Breeding Centre at Rajasthan. WII has formed partnership with Rajasthan Forest department, International Bustard Breeding Agency at UAE and experts from Keith Scotland. This program will involve state governments of Gujarat and Maharashtra. With total fund of Rs 33.85 crore, the infrastructure for captive breeding of GIB will be started whereby after running it for 25-30 years, GIBs' will be released and monitored till 35 years."