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Gujarat govt to undertake census of Great Indian Bustard

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat government will soon undertake a census of the Great Indian Bustard, one of the most critically endangered flying bird species in the world, to ascertain its exact population.

"The count of the Great Indian Bustard will be undertaken in January-February to know its population," Gujarat principal chief wildlife conservator of forest (PCCF) CN Pandey said.

The exercise has been undertaken even in the past, Pandey said, adding that it is expected to give a realistic picture of the dwindling population of the species.

The survey count, Pandey said, will be undertaken by the state forest department, various scientific organizations, Non Government Organizations (NGOs) and nature clubs.

He said that in the last survey, 45-50 Great Indian Bustards were spotted in Kutch district of Gujarat.

"We are expecting the number of the species to rise in the current census. However, the count may not be an exact representation as the Great Indian Bustard keeps on moving locally within a radius of 50-100 km, making it difficult for surveyors to count their heads," he said.

"The actual count of the bird would be slightly more than what the survey report would generally indicate," he said.

Pandey, however, stated that the census would give a fair indication of whether the species is adapting to the changing habitat or not.

Though the Great Indian Bustard, as per International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world's largest global environmental organization, is built to survive in harsh weather conditions, they have been exterminated from almost 90% of their former range owing to loss of habitat and poaching.

In June this year, the satellite tracking of GIB began under the aegis of Wildlife Institute of India to understand the movement of this rare bird and its preferred habitat.

The Times of India (31-12-2013)