By Rajeev Khanna
GANDHINAGAR: Finally, there seem to be some serious efforts in saving the Great Indian Bustard that is on the brink of extinction.
A conservation and breeding centre for the bird is all set to be established in Kutch.
Sources said that the project is being finalized as a joint initiative between the Central and the state governments. "The Centre came up with the offer for setting up the centre in Kutch to which we have given our consent," said a senior official of the forest department.
The Great Indian Bustard is categorized as a critically endangered species of the birds that is on the verge of extinction. "Its number in Gujarat was 48 in the census that was carried out in 2007. The bird is also sighted in patches of Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Maharashtra and Rajasthan accounts for almost 50 per cent of its population in the country while Gujarat houses their second highest number," said Devesh Gadhvi, an expert working with Kutch Ecological Research Centre.
"The model for the conservation and breeding centre being worked out is that the centre funds 75 per cent of the project while we arrange for the remaining 25 per cent. We are going to make special budgetary provisions for it in the state budget that will be presented soon," said the forest department official.
He disclosed that a meeting was held in Gandhinagar last month to draw a recovery plan of the Great Indian Bustard in which experts from all over the country participated including those from Wildlife Institute in Dehradun and some retired officials of the central government.
"Once the project is finalized, it will just take around six months to put in place the required infrastructure. But scientific studies and analysis for its conservation are going to take some time," said the official.
There is a small Kutch Bustard Sanctuary in place near Jakhau in Naliya taluka of the district and it is spread over just 2.2 sq km. Its spread over a greater area is being envisaged.
Experts say that the distribution range of Great Indian Bustard is around 1,000 sq km while its core area is 150 sq km to 200 sq km. The sanctuary should be spread at least over 40 sq km to 50 sq km.
"There is no need for curbing any community activities in the sanctuary as this is an agro-pastoral bird. All that needs to be ensured is that the activities are carried out in a Bustard friendly manner," said Gadhvi.