The government has decided to de-notify the Karera Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh, the oldest home of the rare Great Indian Bustard, as a wildlife zone.
The move will make Karera the first wildlife sanctuary in India to be de-notified.
The Standing Committee of National Board for Wildlife, headed by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, took the decision after the state government said that the last bustard spotted in the sanctuary was in 1995.
The area of the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary in Maharashtra will also be reduced by one-fourth. The committee has decided to reduce the area of India’s only bustard sanctuary near Solapur, 400 km from Mumbai, from 8,500 sqkm to 1,220 sqkm. The number of birds in the sanctuary has dwindled because of alleged killing by locals.
The bustard population in India is less than 1,000 according to an unofficial estimate in 2008. There are no official figures as has been no government survey on bustards.
“De-notification of a wildlife area is rare,” said M.K. Ranjit Singh, head of the Wildlife Trust of India and member of the National Wildlife Board. “Because sanctuaries are considered safe homes for wildlife... Karera was not safe as destruction of habitat resulted in loss of bustards and now migratory birds.”
It was alleged that the decision would benefit the local mining mafia.
The ministry’s decision has, however, come as a boon for Shivpuri residents who have land inside the Karera sanctuary. “Once the denotification of land is done, they would be able to use it freely,” said a state official. But the de-notification will take place only after the state government declares an area equal to Karera elsewhere as protected.