Here is some wonderful news for bird lovers. Two eggs of the Great Indian Bustard (GIB) were hatched artificially in the hatchery in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, due to the efforts of the Rajasthan Forest Department and the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun. One egg hatched on 21st June and the other on 6th July, 2019. Both the chicks are reportedly healthy and are doing well.
Why is this a big deal? There are only about a 160 GIBs left in the world! That is why it is called a critically endangered species. The population is so low that it could become extinct. This bird was present in large numbers about 100 years ago and was hunted for its delicious meat. In more recent times, habitat loss has reduced its numbers.
The Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests has developed a species recovery programme to increase the population of this bird. As a step forward, two captive breeding centres were created in Rajasthan, the state with the highest GIB population. The eggs are brought from the wild breeding population (to save them from from being destroyed in the wild) to the hatchery.
Why create a special centre for breeding them? These birds lay only one egg in a year. So it is very important to provide the right environmental conditions to ensure the egg hatches and the chick survives. Because of the many threats this bird faces in the wild, captive breeding may be the only way to conserve this bird.
Here are some Fun Facts on this Big Bird!
It is only found in India and Pakistan, no where else in the world!
It is a large bird, weighing almost 15 kgs, and was hunted for its meat. Babur, the Mughal emperor, called it ‘delicious’!
The GIB was going to become the national bird of India. The peacock was chosen instead because the GIB rhymes with another not-so-nice word.
When the male wants to attract a female, he makes a low boom sound that can be heard 1 km away!
Do you know of another bird that has become extinct? If so, type the name in the comments below.
Vaijayanti is a writer, a nature enthusiast and an amateur wildlife photographer. She hopes her virtual pen and lens can make the world a better place