£52,000 to save the bustard

Pramod Patil, a Pune-based ornithologist, has earmarked the £35,000 prize money he got with the Whitley Award for conserving the bird. A U.K. charity is contributing the rest.

Updated - May 23, 2016 04:43 pm IST

Published - May 21, 2015 04:18 am IST - Pune:

Pramod Patil, a city-based ornithologist, plans to help conserve the great Indian bustard ( Ardeotis nigriceps ) with £52,000 (about Rs. 50 lakh).

While the £35,000 prize money he got with the Whitley Award for his work to save the critically endangered bird has gone into the corpus, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds of the U.K. has promised him £17,000 for his conservation efforts in the Thar desert.

The money will be channelled through BirdLife International, an international non-governmental organisation involved in conserving birds and their habitats.

Echoing the urgency to protect the rapidly declining numbers of the species, Dr. Patil proposes to spend much of the money in the desert, which hosts the largest surviving population of the bird.

“The bulk of the funds will have to be devoted to projects in the Thar desert as it is one of the last refuges of this great bird. But other areas that serve as a habitat for the bustard will certainly be covered, if and when that need arises,” says Dr. Patil, whose experience while visiting London to receive the Green Oscar (as the Whitley Awards are popularly known) confirmed his views of landscape-level conservation.

Ruing the fact that the great Indian bustard, once abundantly found in grasslands across the Indian subcontinent, had been driven out of its habitat, Dr. Patil said poor planning and failure to involve the local community sounded the death knell for the bustard, which has been disappearing from several protected areas.

“The focus is on decentralisation as a solution to conservation, disbursing funds and decision-making at the local-level instead of merely vesting authority with the government,” he said.

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