Status of Great Indian Bustard (GIB) in Andhra Pradesh, India
With rapid development and vanishing wilderness, population of many species have seen a steep decline. None more than in habitats like grassland in India. In India, grasslands are classified as wasteland, this is based on the fact that it does not have tree growth. This attitude towards the grasslands has proven to be a disaster to many fauna species like the Indian wolf, Blackbuck, Lesser Florican, Great Indian Bustard (GIB) among a few. There has been a drastic decline of GIB population all across its range. Research and conservation work has been happening on the species in North India and Central Indian landscape but no research has been undergoing about the species presence or its status in the South India. There has been no status or population study done in Rollapadu Wildlife Sanctuary (Rollapadu) since the early 2000’s. But this particular bustard sanctuary has been undergoing a rapid land use change in the past 7-8 years. More so that there is a treat of local extension of the species in this sanctuary. As for our understanding so far, this also happens to be the southernmost surviving distribution of the species at present. There used to be a small population further south in the Bellary area of Karnataka, but according to Ranibennur Management Plan, GIB hasn’t been sighted in that area since 1998.
The primary focus of this project would be to identify and map the presence of GIB in Andhra Pradesh, at the same time identify potential habitats and the various challenges and pressures on these habitats. This would form the basis for future conservation action. Apart from this, we hope to get an understanding of the local people’s attitude towards the species and try and initiate community based conservation. Based on the outcome of this initial project we intend to see if market based tools can be used to involve the community towards the conservation of the species and its habitat. Rollapadu is one among many such sights that have been ignored. Through this work we want to aid in rekindling the effort to bring back the sanctuary to its past glory at the same time supplement the existing research undergoing in other parts of the country.In the long run, we hope to work closely with the forest department towards habitat restoration and development and implement an efficient species recovery program.
The project is funded by The British Birdwatching Fair (Birdfair) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).