The Great Indian Bustard is on the brink of extinction, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced on Tuesday.

The Great Indian Bustard has been up-listed to ‘critically endangered,’ the highest level of threat, IUCN said in a release.

Hunting, disturbance, habitat loss and fragmentation have all conspired to reduce this magnificent species to perhaps as few as 250 individuals, IUCN said.

Standing a metre in height and weighing nearly 15 kg, the Great Indian Bustard was once found in large number across the grasslands of India and Pakistan but is now restricted to small and isolated fragments of the remaining habitat.

“In an ever more crowded world, species that need lots of space, such as the Great Indian Bustard, are losing out. However, we are the ones who lose in the long run, as the services that nature provides us start to disappear,” Leon Bennun, Director of Science and Policy at Bird Life International, which partners with IUCN in conservation effort said.

Meanwhile, Director of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) Asad Rahmani, who has been working on conservation of Great Indian Bustard for several years, told PTI that BNHS has been suggesting to the government to maintain few undisturbed grasslands in the country for breeding of this large bird of India, on the same lines as Project Tiger.

This is a must to maintain delicate ecological and habitat balance. Centre should take up the conservation of Great Indian Bustard in a serious manner, he added.