Taking serious note of alarming extinction of two Indian birds namely Great Indian Bustard and Lesser Florican, the Supreme Court of India has constituted a High Powered Committee to urgently frame and implement an Emergency Response Plan for protection of these species, considering the approaching monsoon and breeding season.
Both the birds are protected under Wild Life (Protection) Act (WPA), 1972 but despite being accorded highest level of protection under national law, birds face threat of imminent extinction.
Apex court constituted 3 Member Panel comprising of-
- Deepak Apte-Director of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS)
- Asad R Rahmani– former Director of BNHS and member of governing body of Wetlands International South Asia
- Dhananjai Mohan– Chief Conservator of Forests of Uttarakhand.
SC has also sought responses from Centre as well as concerned state governments where these two species of birds are prominently found.
Petition: A plea of wildlife activists contended that over last 50 years population of Great Indian Bustard has recorded a decline of more than 82%. It fell from an estimated 1260 in 1969, to 100-150 in 2018. Over the past few decades, the population of Lesser Florican (also known as likh or kharmore) has seen a sharp decline of 80%, from 3530 individuals recorded in 1999, to less than 700 in 2018.
Reasons given in plea: for threats faced by two endangered birds includes- Mortality by collision with infrastructure (particularly powerlines and wind turbines), hunting, depletion of grasslands, development of mines and human habitation in and around their habitats and ingestion of pesticides.
Emergency Response Plan: Under it, the wildlife activists have suggested certain steps that could be taken. Such as-
- Urgent dismantling and undergrounding of powerlines and wind turbines
- Immediate embargo on any upcoming wind, solar power projects, and powerlines in and around critical habitats
Other immediate steps includes-
- Installation of diverters on powerlines in semi-critical habitats of birds
- Urgent installation of predator-proof fencing in critical habitats to protect breeding grounds of both the species from invasive human activities as well as predators
- Implementation of dog population control program