State boost for vanishing bustards

State boost for vanishing bustards

Ranebennur Sanctuary is the only nature preserve in Karnataka, which was once home to around 25 bustards. The last time the bird was sighted at the sanctuary was in 1998. There are hardly 500-600 bustards in the entire country.

The proposal, according to an officer who wished anonymity, includes clearing thick vegetation on around 300 hectares of land, out of a total 11,900 hectares of the sanctuary. The Great Indian Bustard prefers to live in open green land and not in thick vegetation. Hitherto, the sanctuary had a vast open land that naturally helped the birds to live and breed. However, they gradually lose their habitat and vanished. Some fell prey to wolves and foxes that are in plenty in the sanctuary.

The Great Indian Bustards are found in parts of Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, and in the  Punjab province of Pakistan.

The officer said the foremost task was to create a natural habitat for the birds by clearing vegetation and then take up captive breeding. The department is awaiting clearance of the proposal by the Centre to take necessary steps in this direction. The officer said the present forest laws were so stringent that even the Forest Department could not take up any activities in forested areas without the permission of the Centre. “What we are intending is to clear trees like eucalyptus and acacia grown on 300 hectares in the sanctuary to create an open green ground for the birds. Once they feel at home, breeding won’t be a problem,” he said.

Biggest hurdle

According to the officer, the biggest hurdle to the department are the shepherds who allow sheep to graze inside the sanctuary. There are thousands of sheep in the surrounding areas of the Blackbuck Sanctuary. As the bustards are shy by nature, they avoid human intervention, he said.

The department is trying to convince the local population not to graze their cattle inside the sanctuary area so that many activities could be taken up to revive the glory of the sanctuary, the officer noted.

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