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Great Indian Bustard found in Bellary pocket

EXCITING DISCOVERY: Great Indian Bustard in Sirguppa taluk on Wednesday.

EXCITING DISCOVERY: Great Indian Bustard in Sirguppa taluk on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: — PHOTO: M. AHIRAJ

M. Ahiraj

Majestic bird on the verge of extinction rediscovered in a region in Karnataka

BELLARY: The Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps), a majestic bird on the verge of extinction, has been rediscovered in Sirguppa in Karnataka — and they are breeding, too. Sirguppa taluk, situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra in Bellary district, is among the few pockets in the country where the bird survives.

The numbers

There are fewer than 500 of the birds in India today, about 400 of them in the Desert National Park in Rajasthan. A small number is found in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

The new specimens were found during an expedition undertaken on Wednesday by naturalist Santosh Martin, president of Sloth Bear Foundation, and Abdul Samad, president of the Society for Wildlife and Nature (SWAN), Hospet, along with mine owner Dinesh Singhi and surgeon S.K. Arun, both wildlife enthusiasts.

Juvenile with adult

Mr. Martin said: “We could see a female GIB with an eight-month-old juvenile feeding in a barren field near Sirguppa. Both the mother and the baby looked healthy and were feeding quite well on locusts and lizards. This is the first time we could see a juvenile along with an adult from a short distance and photograph them.”

The GIB was discovered in Sirguppa in April 2006 by these naturalists after expeditions undertaken over a period of three years.

The arid and semi-arid grasslands in the interior of Sirguppa taluk are most suited for the bird. Samad Kottur had found a large egg in the field near the Ravihal-Hatcholli area of the taluk during an expedition in December 2007.

Gadag, Mundargi and Ranebennur are also GIB habitats. However, the birds have not been sighted in the recent past here.

The size

The Great Indian Bustard, known locally as Yarey bhoota in Kannada and Bathu myaka in Telugu, is a large bird: its height ranges between 92 and 122 cm and it weighs over 12 kg. It has a greyish or white neck, a black crown and crest, uniform brown underparts and white spotted black wing-coverts.

He says the birds exhibit nomadic movements: sometimes they move quite a distance. This depends on a variety of factors that are not well understood.

Being big birds, they require a substantial wild habitat to survive.

The habitat covers a vast area in Karnataka as well as Andhra Pradesh. Most of it is under agriculture now. Their number is dwindling fast as their habitats get converted into agricultural fields, according to Santosh Martin.

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