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Nannaj GIB Habitat Centre ruled out by Rajasthan forest dept

ByGayatri Vajpeyee
Jun 08, 2023 12:45 AM IST

The Rajasthan Forest Department has ruled out a project to set up a Great Indian bustard (GIB) habitat centre at Nannaj, Solapur, citing the difficulties in transferring eggs or grown-up GIBs from Rajasthan to Maharashtra. Plans for a GIB breeding centre have also been nixed. However, the Maharashtra Forest Department is undertaking a long-term GIB habitat restoration project, which includes removing invasive species, controlling feral dog populations and reducing human interference in protected areas.

While the Maharashtra Forest Department had been in talks with the Rajasthan Forest Department (RFD) for setting up a Great Indian bustard (GIB) Habitat Centre at Nannaj, Solapur, the RFD has ruled out the project saying it will not be feasible to transfer eggs or grown-up GIBs from Rajasthan to Maharashtra. Plans to set up a GIB soft release facility, too, have been nixed.

Great Indian bustard (HT FILE)

Earlier this year, the wildlife division of the Pune Forest Department had sent a proposal to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MOEFCC) and the RFD for setting up a GIB Breeding Centre at the existing GIB Sanctuary at Nannaj in Solapur district. Among research and conservation institutions, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) had been elected to help set up the breeding centre in Maharashtra. As per the forest department records, there is only one female GIB at the Nannaj GIB Sanctuary. As such, the breeding centre project was proposed to increase/restore the GIB population in this protected area. At a recent meeting however, the RFD completely ruled out the breeding centre project.

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Tushar Chavan, conservator of forests (wildlife), said, “There is a good number of GIBs in Rajasthan. As per the official data, there are 50 such birds in the wild while 25 are captive, which is the highest number of GIBs in India. The RFD also runs a GIB Breeding Centre which is very effective. Therefore, we wanted their help to set up a breeding centre in Maharashtra. Initially, the plan was to borrow some eggs from the department. However, the department ruled out this project. The officials said that GIBs are very shy and sensitive birds. Transferring them over such long distances will be harmful to their health. The eggs too cannot be transferred over such long distances as that may impact their productivity. So, the officials suggested not setting up the centre in Maharashtra.”

During the meeting with RFD and WII officials, the option of setting up a GIB soft release facility was also considered. The young ones of the GIBs could be brought to Maharashtra from Rajasthan and after analysing their health conditions, they could be released into their natural habitat. However, this too would have required at least four years, Chavan said.

Plan for habitat restoration

For the conservation of GIBs in Maharashtra, the forest department has undertaken a long-term GIB Habitat Restoration project. Several steps have been taken by the forest department towards this which include: removal of invasive species in the grassland areas, control of the feral dog population, and reduction of human interference in protected areas. Chavan said that they have recently constructed 20 watering holes for the animals at Nannaj Sanctuary.

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