The great Indian Bustard on the verge of extinction

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The recent extinction stories of Sudan, the last male northern white rhino and Spix’s macaws of Brazil must have drawn a lot of your attention. But amidst this international attention, we are missing the unfolding of a tale of extinction much closer to our homes and very much before our eyes. The great Indian bustard it is!

The bird that marginally missed the honour of being christened as the national bird of India is now staggering on its last legs. Only 150 individuals of the species survives in a country that was effectively the home of these bustards.

In 1969, over 1,000 of these birds could be found roaming freely in the dry grasslands of 11 Indian states. So, what exactly happened in about half a century that the population of these birds reduced dramatically?

Hunting could be a major factor as the bird is still a popular game bird in many parts of the country despite being listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of India.

The other factor that has in fact become an issue of environmental debate is the power lines. Until recently, the grasslands which was home to these creatures is now the site for renewable power projects. With the new wind turbines, also comes more power lines to take the energy from grids to homes. Bustards are blessed with poor frontal vision and heavy bodies, which makes them most vulnerable victims to these cable lines.  According to a report published by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), 18 out of the population of 128 bustards in Thar Desert, are likely to die every year because of this intersection of power lines in bustard habitat.

Still, we do not have any solution as to how to save this iconic bird. Raising awareness about the conservation of these birds seems only way possible to deal with this upcoming havoc.

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