HYDERABAD: The Great Indian Bustard, a highly endangered species, is once again imperilled. Distressing reports are emanating from the Rollapadu Wildlife Sanctuary in Kurnool, the lone ideal habitat of this large handsome bird in Andhra Pradesh. Latest reports indicate that the number of this bird has come down drastically -- to just 18 from 40 -- in half-a-decade.
It was in 1980s that the bustard was first sighted at Rollapadu and subsequently the wildlife officials declared it a wildlife sanctuary to protect the species.
The sanctuary was considered an ideal habitat for the bustard in the whole of Deccan plateau and for a decade or so the sanctuary was protected, managed and studied with enthusiasm.
Latest bird sighting reports from researchers of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) indicate that these days, the sanctuary has ceased to serve its purpose resulting in a situation where the bustard is forced to live outside its sanctuary.
Blasting of rocks during excavation works for widening of Alagnur Balancing Reservoir, located few kilometres from the sanctuary, was taken up earlier this year.
Owing to the disturbance, the birds were reported to have sought refuge near a jungle stream with vegetation within 1.5 km from the sanctuary limits.
“Accumulation of water in the vicinity of the sanctuary is bringing about serious ecological changes in its environment. The groundwater levels are increasing in the sanctuary leading to change in vegetation, which in turn is resulting in reduction of grasshoppers, a staple diet of this bird,” points out S. Ashok Kumar, a BNHS researcher who visited the sanctuary recently.