Possibly the most critical of all critically endangered birds in India, the Great Indian Bustard has almost vanished with no sighting of the birds in Madhya Pradesh for years.
State chief wildlife warden Narinder Kumar admitted that the birds have disappeared from Madhya Pradesh, saying that for the last three years or so, there have been no sightings of the endangered species in the Karera sanctuary in Shivpuri from where the birds have completely disappeared.
The birds have not been spotted for the last three years in Ghatigaon sanctuary in Gwalior, where over half a dozen had been spotted earlier, he said.
"This is a fact that we have performed poorly when it comes to saving GIB sites in the state", Kumar told HT.
Once spread across western and southern India, the Great Indian Bustard (GIB) barely numbers 250 in the wild, the wildlife official said.
He added that the state has not sent any fresh proposal to the Centre for setting up new breeding sites for the birds on the lines of the Gujarat government as there have not been any sightings of the endangered birds in the state.
In 2013, the state forest department had taken up initiatives to revive the population of the birds by setting up two breeding sites at Ghatigaon sanctuary in Gwalior and Karera in Shivpuri that once had sizeable population of the birds.
The 2011 red list of birds, released by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), has enlisted the great Indian bustard in the 'critically endangered' category.
According to wildlife experts, the enhanced protection and restricted livestock grazing in the Karera Bustard Sanctuary in MP led to spurt in the black buck population, which resulted in crop depredation in adjoining private agricultural lands.
Because of this local communities dependent on agriculture got angry as they did not want protected areas near their fields. They didn’t want GIB near their fields. This also contributed in the dwindling numbers of GIB.
In India, the bird is now restricted to Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan.
According to wildlife experts, with the vanishing grasslands of India, this endemic bird has lost much of its original habitat and has disappeared from 95 percent of its range today.
The GIBs have been hunted indiscriminately over the years as they are good table birds. Besides, they are a difficult quarry, which makes them ‘good sport,’ wildlife experts said.
Large-scale encroachments, destruction of nestling sites, altered habitat have added to the woes of the birds in the state, they added.