By Joymala Bagchi
Gandhinagar (Gujarat) [India], Feb 20 (ANI): The Great Indian Bustard (GIB), once found in thousands and facing extinction, was on Thursday successfully enlisted into the global list of migratory species at the ongoing Conference of Parties (COP13) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) here.
Merely 150 to 200 of Great Indian Bustard are currently present in the country.
The GIB, which is also the mascot of the ongoing 13th COP is among the three species -- the other two being the Asiatic Elephant and the Bengal Florican -- which were today included in the Appendix I of the CMS, a global instrument under the United Nations (UN) Environment Programme that came into existence in 1983.
Inclusion of the species in the Appendix I of CMS will aid in transboundary conservation efforts facilitated by international conservation bodies and existing international laws and agreement.
Predominantly found in Indian subcontinent, the Great Indian Bustard was also one of the frontrunners in the list of Indian National Birds.
The population of GIB, which was earlier found in several states, have reduced primarily due to hunting in the boundary area of Pakistan-India and power-line collisions in India.
India today moved the proposals to include the three species at the meet and the motion was adopted without any objections. It received the backing of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and European Union (EU). There are 130 parties to the CMS which include 129 countries and the EU.
According to the proposal, "The current population size is about 150 birds or less in India. There are 128 birds in Rajasthan, 10 birds in Gujarat, less than eight birds in Maharashtra, about 10 birds in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh."
A breeding programme for GIB has been initiated to preserve the critically endangered and conservation dependent species.
"The proposed amendment will assist in better understanding about trans-boundary movement of the birds and specially protection of the species against hunting and other human-induced mortality risks," the proposal said.
Mainland Asiatic Elephant and Bengal Florican are also listed under globally endangered species under Appendix I of CMS.
Mainland Asian elephants also known as Indian elephants have been listed under Appendix I of CITES (Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna) since 1975.
Bengal Florican is the highest of IUCN's categories of endangerment and is only applied to species closest to extinction. This critically endangered bird, with the South Asian subspecies, have been restricted to the terai and duars grassland regions of the Indo-Gangetic and Brahmaputra floodplains.
Their population declined mainly as a result of habitat loss, habitat degradation and hunting. In the Indian subcontinent, the species no longer breeds outside protected areas except few pockets in Brahmputra flood plains (BirdLife International 2001).
The adoption of these three particularly endangered species under Appendix I of CMS is expected to promote conservation status in natural habitat and reduce human-animal conflicts in range countries.
The range countries are -- India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Peninsular Malaysia and China. (ANI)