Status of Great Indian Bustard and Associated Wildlife in Thar. Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun and Rajasthan Forest Department, Jaipur.

Oct 25, 2020

This study aimed at assessing the status of Great Indian Bustard, Chinkara and Fox alongside their habitat and anthropogenic stressors across ~25,500 km 2 of potential bustard landscape in Thar spanning Jaisalmer and Jodhpur districts of Rajasthan. Systematic surveys were conducted in 144 km 2 cells from slow-moving vehicle along 15- 20 km transects to record species’ detections, habitat characteristics in sampling plots, and secondary information on species’ occurrence. Eighteen teams comprising of field biologists and Forest Department staff sampled 118 cells along 1924 km transect in March 2014. Species’ detection data were analyzed in Occupancy and Distance Sampling framework to estimate area of occupancy and density/abundance of key species. Our key findings were that Great Indian Bustard occupied 5.8 ± 4.4 % of sites, although information from local community questionnaire surveys recorded usage in 27% of sites. Bird density was estimated at 0.61 ± 0.36 /100 km 2 , yielding abundance estimates of 103 ± 62 in the sampled area (16,992 km 2 ) and 155 ± 94 GIB in Thar landscape (25488 km 2 area). During the survey, 38 individual birds were detected. Bustard-habitat relationships, assessed using multinomial logistic regression, showed that disturbances, level of protection and topography influenced distribution. Seventy-five percent of priority conservation sites were outside Protected Area. Although some of them benefit from community protection, majority are threatened by hunting and unplanned landuses.

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