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Great Indian Bustard or Great Godawans

Great Indian Bustard

The Great Indian Bustard (GIB) is known locally as Godawan in village Dholiya and in other villages around Pokhran in Jaisalmer District, Rajasthan. It can weigh between 15 to 18 kg., and is one of the heaviest flying birds on the planet!.

GIBs were once an integral part of many grassland landscapes across India, but are now Critically Endangered. Only 150 individuals are left in India, of which 122 are found in and around the Desert National Park (DNP) landscape in Rajasthan. Over 80 percent of GIB’s habitat is outside protected areas, owned by local communities. The farmers own large tracts of land and a large part of it remains unused for agriculture. 

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IUCN Status:

Major Threats:

At present, the main threats to their survival are loss of habitat, attacks by feral dogs, poaching, and accidents caused by human-made obstacles on their flight path such as high-tension electric power lines and windmills.

Conservation Efforts:

Project Great Indian Bustard:
Project Launch:
  • Date: 5th June 2013
  • Launched by the Honorable Chief Minister
  • Aim: Conservation of the critically endangered Great Indian Bustard (locally known as Godawan)
  • Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps) status:
    • Critically endangered
    • Notable vulnerability to extinction, surpassing even the tiger
  • Initially placed under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, yet remained insufficiently protected
Significance of the Project:
  • Marks a new era in conserving neglected species like the Great Indian Bustard
  • Recognizes the species’ significance as the state bird of Rajasthan
  • Aims to elevate its status from being “Below Protection Line” (BPL) to ensure comprehensive conservation efforts
Objective and Focus:
  • Focuses on the conservation and preservation of the remaining population of the Great Indian Bustard
  • Aims to address the critical threats facing the species for its survival
Expected Impact:
  • Creation of a more robust conservation framework
  • Enhanced attention and measures for the protection of the species
  • Potential resurgence of the Great Indian Bustard population
  • Represents a significant stride in biodiversity conservation
  • Sets a precedent for prioritizing the protection of neglected and endangered species in India

About Desert National Park

  • Designation: Desert National Park Sanctuary
  • Location: Spread across Jaisalmer and Barmer districts, covering 3162 square kilometers of the Thar Desert.
  • Establishment: Notified in 1980 to conserve the unique biological diversity, ecological processes, aesthetic beauty, and cultural heritage of the desert ecosystem.
Faunal Components:
  • Great Indian Bustard (GIB): Flagship species, population ranging from 35 to 40 concentrated mainly in the Sudashri landscape. A satellite area called Naath ji ka tanka-Ramdeora Closure houses 5 to 10 individuals.
  • Houbara Bustard (Tilor): A migratory species known to winter in the sanctuary.
  • Indian Gazelle (Chinkara): The state animal, often seen alongside GIB in the golden sand dunes.
  • Carnivores: Desert Fox, Indian Fox, Desert Cat play a significant role in the area’s food webs and ecological processes.
  • Other Mammals: Indian Hare, Hedgehogs, and various others.
  • Reptiles: Indian Monitor, Desert Monitor, Spiny-tailed Lizard, Sand Lizards, and several snakes.
  • Bird Species: Over 200 bird species reported, including birds of prey like Steppe Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Short-toed Snake Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Laggar Falcon, Common Kestrel, Red-headed Vulture, Cinereous Vulture, and Egyptian Vulture.
  • Other Birds: Sand Grouses, Grey Francolins, and Larks are frequently spotted. The Imperial Sandgrouse has not been spoted in recent years.
Floral Distribution:

State tree (Khejri) and State flower (Rohida) are having natural habitat here.

Read Also: Desert Climate

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