By Pramod Patil
Great Indian Bustards (GIB) are found in grassland ecosystems, which are considered as the most neglected of all ecosystems. Animals are let to overgraze, the land is used for plantations and, sometimes, in the name of conservation, the government plants alien species in grasslands. In India, cheetahs were lost because grasslands were degraded. In 2011, the GIB was categorised as critically endangered. From around 1,000 in the year 2000, the population of the bustards that are found usually in India and Pakistan, has come down to around 300. There is no hope of conserving the specie in Pakistan and it is up to India to protect them. Bustards are hunted for their meat. People go round and round them in bullock-carts to lead the bird into believing that they are not approaching it. In this country, only tiger’s forests are well protected. The state bird of Rajasthan does not get the attention it should. Bustards are representatives of the grassland ecosystem; if we save the former, the latter automatically revives itself. A draft plan for the recovery of the GIB has been finalised by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, but it is yet to be passed.
Pramod Patil works on various conservation issues related to grasslands and the Great Indian Bustards in Maharashtra.