Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, has issued a set of guidelines to the states to set up Bustard Conservation Committees (BCCs) and to declare potential breeding areas of three grass land birds - Great Indian Bustard, Bengal Florican and Lesser Florican as Critical Bustard Areas to prevent human intervention in these areas.
|Great Indian Bustard(Ardeotis nigriceps)|
According to the guidelines, cattle grazing, construction activities and hunting will be completely banned in these areas during the breeding season of the birds. A 5 kilometre radius of the area will be declared as minimal infrastructure zone preventing constructions here to avoid bird mortality, says an official MoEF document.
The Critical Bustard Areas will be decided by the BCCs based on the field surveys conducted by forest officials to identify potential breeding, nesting and feeding sites of these birds.
The population of these birds have fallen alarmingly in India in the last decade which left just 300 or less Great Indian Bustards remaining, which happens to be the only breeding population of the bird in the whole world. Bengal Florican, a sub species is facing a same fate with just 350 members remaining in India. Lesser Florican is estimated to have a 2500 individuals remaining but is considered under Critically Endangered by IUCN.
The BCCs should chalk out state level action plans which extend from 5 to 10 years to make site-specific action conservation efforts to establish a viable breeding population of these birds to remove from critically endangered tag on the species.
Running Ex-situ breeding programme and efforts like making Bustard Gene banks and similar attempts are also suggested. It also directs the states to clear invasive species of plants since they obstruct visibility during breeding season. It also urges state forest departments to take over revenue land which are breeding sites.
Local community participation in Bustard Conservation
The central guidelines also stress on the importance of local community participation in conservation. BCCs should have members from the local panchyats and the field studies will also record the major livelihood means of nearby villages of the Critical Bustard Areas, says the MoEF guidelines.
|Habitat Distribution of Great Indian Bustard in India|
It also urges the state governments to make a compensatory mechanism, public consultations, awareness campaigns and help people to find alternate sources of livelihood to stop hunting and stealing Bustard eggs.
Fencing of the critically Bustard Areas and daily monitoring of such areas with local community participation is also suggested.