• The Great Indian bustard or Indian bustard is a bustard found on the Indian subcontinent.
  • Bustards are large terrestrial birds found in dry grasslands and steppe regions.
  • A large bird with a horizontal body and long bare legs, giving it an ostrich-like appearance, this bird is among the heaviest of the flying birds.
  • It is the State bird of Rajasthan and is considered¬†India‚Äôs most critically endangered bird.
  • It is considered the¬†flagship grassland species,¬†representing the health of the grassland ecology.
  • Its population is confined¬†mostly to Rajasthan and Gujarat. Small populations occur in Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh.
Great Indian Bustard (GIB)
  • Threats:
    • The bird is under constant threat¬†due to collision/electrocution with power transmission lines,¬†hunting (still prevalent in Pakistan), habitat loss and alteration as a result of widespread agricultural expansion, etc.
  • Protection Status:
    • International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List:¬†Critically Endangered
    • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES):¬†Appendix I
    • Convention on Migratory Species (CMS): Appendix I
    • Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule 1

Characteristics of the Great Indian Bustard

  • Weighing about 15 kgs, the great Indian bustard is easily recognisable by its black cap over a pale head and neck. The male deep sandy buff coloured and its breast band turns black during the mating season. The female is smaller than the male.
  • Although the Kori bustard (Ardeotis¬†kori)¬†and the great bustard (Otis tarda) are bigger than it, the Great Indian Bustard is the largest flying bird in its native region, standing at about 3.3 ft tall.
  • The Great Indian Bustard was spread throughout India and Pakistan but now is only found in a few pockets in both the countries.
  • Earlier present in 11 states of India, they are now restricted to the following 6 states today.
    1. Andhra Pradesh
    2. Gujarat
    3. Karnataka
    4. Maharashtra
    5. Madhya Pradesh
    6. Rajasthan
Behaviour and Habitat of the Great Indian Bustard
  • The male Indian Bustard is usually solitary but forms small flocks during the winter.
  • The Great Indian Bustard is found in semi-arid and arid grasslands, with tall grass in the open. They are also found near farmlands as well.
  • These birds are often found associated in the same habitat as¬†blackbuck.
  • The bird is omnivorous preying on insects, rodents, and reptiles mostly while also consuming grass seed berries. Near farmlands, they also feed on groundnut, millets, and legumes pods.
  • When threatened the females are known to carry their young under the wing when fleeing.

Measures are taken to protect Great Indian Bustard:

  • Species Recovery Programme:
    • It is kept under the species recovery programme under the¬†Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats¬†of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
  • National Bustard Recovery Plans:
    • It is currently being implemented by conservation agencies.
  • Conservation Breeding Facility:
    • MoEF&CC, Rajasthan government and Wildlife Institute of India (WII) have also established a conservation breeding facility in Desert National Park at Jaisalmer in June 2019.
    • The objective of the programme is to build up a captive population of Great Indian Bustards and to release the chicks in the wild for increasing the population.
  • Project Great Indian Bustard:
    • It has been launched by the Rajasthan government with an aim of constructing breeding enclosures for the species and developing infrastructure to reduce human pressure on its habitats.
  • Eco-Friendly Measures:
    • Task Force for suggesting eco-friendly measures to mitigate impacts of power transmission lines and other power transmission infrastructures on wildlife including the Great Indian Bustard.
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