The Indian bustard: on its last legs

Prelims level : GS 3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment Mains level : Biodiversity
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  • The Great Indian Bustard, showing its decline in recent years.


  • India, effectively the only home of the bustards, now harbours less than 150 individuals in five States.
  • It is critically endangered — IUCN Red data list


  • Arid and semi-arid grasslands with scattered short scrub, bushes and low intensity cultivation in flat or gently undulating terrain. It avoids irrigated areas
  • Found in India and the adjoining regions of Pakistan
  • In India, the bird was historically found in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Today the bustard is restricted to isolated pockets in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan
  • It is state bird of Rajasthan

Reasons for threat:

  • Hunting for sport and food, despite being listed in Schedule I of India’s Wildlife Protection Act
  • Grassland conversion, dispersal of birds into agricultural landscapes. The intensification of agriculture, including more pesticides, barbed-wire fences and new crops could endanger the birds’ survival in this landscape.
  • Developmental projects such as new wind turbines, more power lines are reasons for its decimation. Bustards, with their poor frontal vision and heavy bodies, cannot manoeuvre away from cables in time, they get charred to death due to collisions with power lines.
  • Also mining, stone quarrying havae increased the severity of habitat degradation and disturbance
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