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Home ยป One more endangered Great Indian Bustard died in Jaisalmer, How many left?

One more endangered Great Indian Bustard died in Jaisalmer, How many left?

One more endangered Great Indian Bustard died in Jaisalmer, How many left?

The great Indian bustard, India’s most endangered bird, has died in Jaisalmer after being struck by a power transmission line. The same place where another great Indian bustard died on September 2020.

Incidentally, the death of this “critically endangered” bird comes exactly two years ago after the Supreme Court, in April 2021, ordered power companies and the government to lay underground cables for all new power projects in Rajasthan and look for diverters.

GIB population reduced 75% in 30 years

According to the report by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), a statutory body of the ministry, said only 150 GIB remain, with the maximum number in Jaisalmer. They are dying at a rate of 15% per year due to collisions with high-voltage power lines.

The GIB population has been reduced by 75% in the last 30 years, said the WII report that has compiled several studies conducted by researchers across the country.

Great Indian bustard, India’s most endangered bird, has died in Jaisalmer. Photo credit: Sumer Singh Bhati.

“Mortality of adult GIBs is high due to collision with power lines that intersect their flight path. All bustards are collision-prone due to their poor forward vision and inability to see power lines from a distance,” it said.

WII research has shown that power lines, particularly vertically aligned high voltage (33-440 KV) transmission lines, are the greatest threat to GIB as of now and their habitats have a high density of transmission lines due to the impetus in renewable energy production in GIB Habitats of Rajasthan and Gujarat.

“The study recorded 5 GIB deaths in 2017-18 in Jaisalmer alone and estimated that 15% of the GIB population could be dying due to this threat. Since the natural death rate of great bustards is 4-8%, the current additive mortality rate due to transmission lines is significantly higher and, if left unchecked, may lead to the extinction of the species” says the report.

Great Indian Bustard population. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Great Indian Bustard population

Once more than 1,000 individuals a few decades ago, the bustard population has dropped to 745 in the year 1978, 600 in 2001, 300 in 2008, and no more than 150 in the current year.

Earlier this year, the Union Environment Ministry reported to Parliament that around 150 great Indian bustards remained across the country, including 128 birds in Rajasthan and fewer than 10 birds each in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. In addition, 16 chicks are being raised in a conservation center.

However, wildlife conservationists claim that the number of GIB in the wild is less than 100 as of 2022.

Shikhar Agrawal, Senior Secretary for Forests, Environment and Climate Change in the Rajasthan government, described it on Twitter as the “Birth of Hope”, while sharing a video of the GIB chick emerging from its shell at the Conservation Center in Sam.

In April 2021, the Supreme Court had ordered power companies and the government to lay underground cables for all new power projects in Rajasthan and find diverters for existing lines.

The great Indian Bustard population remained 150 across the country. Source: Flickr

Neha Sinha, a conservation biologist with the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and author of a book “Wild and Wilful” tweeted “we lost another Great Indian Bustard in Deg Rai Mata Oran, Jaisalmer today. The same place where another GIB died 4 years ago. Powerlines are death traps for GIB. There are only 100 left on earth. If we don’t zone powerlines away from GIB areas, there’s no future for them”.

Heaviest flying birds

The Gib is one of the heaviest flying birds endemic to the Indian subcontinent. They are primarily land birds with adult males up to 122cm and weighing 11-15kg and adult females reaching 92cm and weighing 4-7kg, the WII said.

The GIB lays an egg every 1-2 years and the success rate of these eggs is 60-70 per cent. However, this rate has been reduced to 40-50% due to predators such as foxes and dogs.

He also said that apart from IPG many other birds are also killed due to collision/electrocution with these transmission lines at a rate of 10 birds per km per month totalling nearly a lakh bird deaths per year in 4200 sq km.

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