Great Indian Bustard Current Affairs - 2020

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Three Animal Species in India Extinct Due To Desertification: Researchers

According to some researchers three animal species namely Indian Cheetah, pink-headed duck and Great Indian Bustard have become extinct due to desertification in India. The study by researchers was put forth at 14th meeting of Conference of Parties to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP 14).

The UNCCD COP 14 meeting is being held in national capital from 2-13 September 2019 and is being attended by representatives of 196 countries with almost 5000 participants.

Key Findings of Study

Researchers claimed having a database of over 5.6 million specimens, collected from all over India and also from neighbouring countries before independence which gives a lot of information about how things have changed in more than 100 years.

While speaking at UNCCD COP 14 meeting Kailash Chandra, Director of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), country’s apex organisation on animal taxonomy, stressed that-

  • Immense changes are occurring because of deforestation and desertification and animals are the worst sufferers of land degradation
  • Around 40% of country’s land is facing threat of desertification and over 30% of its land area has been degraded through deforestation, over-cultivation, soil erosion and depletion of wetlands, which is causing severe adversities to animals.
  • Desertification not only impacts animals but the entire biodiversity, which includes microscopic animals to human beings and also the entire food chain too.
  • Even though India faces a growing crisis of land degradation but its not only India, but the entire world which faces problems regarding soil aridity.
  • Reason for desertification: Desertification is caused due to increasing use of insecticides, pesticides, conversion of forest land to agricultural land, industries and chemicals and indiscriminate development which is increasing adversities for the animals. But everything has to be regulated so that it could be minimised the process could be reversed.
  • Species Extinctions: A minimum of 3-4 species have already become extinct from India (like Indian Cheetah, Pink-headed duck, Javan, and Sumatran rhino) is primarily due to land degradation and desertification in combination with other factors. Population of Great Indian Bustard, a desert bird which was earlier found in many states, has reduced to less than 150. Many more species are on verge of becoming extinct and therefore fall into category of critically endangered species.
Steps taken by Governent:

A breeding programme for GIB has been initiated by government.

Projects initiated by Union Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) focuses on steps required to save animals from extinction and ensure a healthy environment for endangered species. Elephant project, Rhino project, Tiger project and other variants of this kind are in action to protect and preserve animal lives.

There are 771 protected areas whose land composition cannot be changed, which is boosting animal population.

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NGT asks centre to prepare plan for protection of Great Indian Bustard

A National Green Tribunal (NGT) Bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel has directed Central government to prepare a time-bound action plan within two months for protection of Great Indian Bustard. This decision is in response to the high mortality rate of birds noted by NGT.

Key Highlights

Committee: NGT Bench headed by Justice A K Goel constituted a joint committee comprising officials of Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Ministry of Power, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and nominees of Energy Departments of Gujarat and Rajasthan. The committee was tasked to prepare an action plan for implementation of suggestions put forth by Wildlife Institute of India (WII) over the isuue.

Plea:  NGT was hearing a plea filed by Centre for Wildlife and Environment Litigation (CWEL), through advocate Gaurav Bansal, seeking directions to ministry to make bio-diversity impact assessment mandatory for every wind-power project, irrespective of its size/capacity. Plea stated that the reason for high mortality rate of critically endangered species of birds as per 30th Forest Advisory Committee meeting is power lines, especially high-voltage transmission lines with multiple overhead wires as the bird have poor frontal vision. It put forth that 75% of birds have died due to collision with power lines in past 30 years.

Environment Ministry also acknowledged that adult mortality among GIB is still very high due to collisions with power-lines that crisscross their flying paths.

WII Report Recommendations:

It suggested a slew of measures, such as mitigation of all power transmission lines passing through priority bustard habitats and disallowing new wind turbines, solar farms among others.

Steps should be taken to reduce poaching of specie and other wildlife in Thar landscape.

Poaching of GIB and other wildlife in Thar landscape could be reduced by improving protection enforcement through training of forest department frontline staff in smart patrolling tools with help of conservation organisations.

About Great Indian bustard

Scientific Name: Ardeotis nigriceps

Population: 200 individuals worldwide. Its largest populations are found in Indian state of Rajasthan.

Status: It is Listed in-

  • Schedule I of Indian Wildlife (Protection)Act, 1972,
  • Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) or Bonn Convention
  • Appendix I of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)
  • IUCN Red List- as Critically Endangered
  • National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016)

It has also been identified as one of the species for recovery programme under Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats of Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, and Climate Change (MoEFCC).

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