Great Indian Bustard now ‘critically endangered’, only 250 left

June 7th, 2011 - 11:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, June 7 (IANS) The Great Indian Bustard, one of the largest species of birds, is on the brink of extinction with barely 250 alive, a top international conservation body announced Tuesday.

The Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis Nigriceps), standing nearly a metre tall, is named on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, released by its partner, BirdLife International globally Tuesday.

The bird has been uplisted to “Critically Endangered” or the highest threat level, due to hunting, disturbances, habitat loss and fragmentation, IUCN said.

Weighing around 15 kgs, the Great Indian Bustard was once commonly seen on the grasslands of India and Pakistan, but is now pushed to small and isolated fragments of its remaining habitat.

It is now seen in parts of central and western India or in some sanctuaries and zoos, but efforts to breed it in captivity have largely failed.

“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,” said BirdLife’s director (Science & Policy) Leon Bennun.

This year’s update brings the total number of threatened bird species to 1,253, an alarming 13 percent of the total in the world, Bennun said.

“In the space of a year another 13 bird species have moved into the threatened categories,” said IUCN deputy director Jean-Christophe Vie.

Vie termed it as “a disturbing trend” but said that the figure would be much worse if conservation initiatives were not in place.

Other species on the new list include the Bahama Oriole (Icterus northropi) and the population of this beautiful black and yellow Caribbean bird is estimated at around 180.

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