Thursday, September 8, 2011

Farmers helping forest dept protect GIB eggs in fields

The link.

CHANDARPUR: Enthused by the survival of a small number of hatchlings of the Great Indian Bustard (GIB) in the habitats of Warora and Bhadrawati forest ranges, the forest department has roped in farmers to help protect and conserve the endangered birds in the breeding period. Extensive awareness cum protection drive has been initiated in the over 1,000 hectare area in two tehsils, which now hosts eight GIBs, including a young bird.

Locally known as Maldhok or Hom, this endangered bird is tracked in Warora-Bhadrawati area every year in August to ascertain their numbers. Census of GIB, a Schedule-I avian, over the last few years revealed the presence of seven birds of the species. The efforts by the forest department and local farmers helped the survival of a hatchling last year, raising the population in the habitat to eight.

Apart from Solapur, Warora-Bhadrawati is only other rich habitat in the state where GIB is found in good numbers. "Last year, we traced three GIB eggs in the fields with help from farmers. However, only one of the three eggs survived the hatching period of 40 days. All around protection to the hatchling, with help from farmers helped its survival," said DCF, Chandrapur forest division, P Kalyankumar.

He said that hundreds of farmers were felicitated by the guardian minister last year for this. Farmer Waman Kite from village Wanoja, on whose farm the egg had successfully hatched, was given a special prize for his efforts.

According to the census, there were two males and two females of the species in the fields in Warora-Ashti-Tulana block, while a female and two males are seen in Nandori-Bhatali and Pawnal block. "Thanks to the successful hatching last year, one more bird has been added. The young one was seen with its parents in the fields this year. Our men are keeping a close watch on all these birds for protection," he said.

He said birdwatcher Gopal Thosar pointed out the GIB to forest officials in 2004. Since then regular census is being carried out every year. Since last year, foresters also carry out extensive awareness campaigns in villages near GIBs habitats. "People are educated about the importance of survival of the endangered species and GIB safety committees are being formed. Farmers have been asked to report the presence of GIBs and its eggs in their fields on phone numbers of forest officials. We have declared protection allowance of Rs 200 per day for any farmer protecting the GIB eggs in their fields. Any farmer protecting an egg through its incubation period (till hatching) could earn Rs 8,000," Kalyankumar said.

He said the exercise started in July and would continue till December. The birds usually lay their eggs in September-October. Foresters are trying to track every egg laid by GIBs this year. Once tracked, all eggs would be extensively protected till hatching. "Nanaj GIB sanctuary has 15 GIBs. If we could help a few more eggs survive, soon this area could overtake Nanaj sanctuary in the GIB count," Kalyankumar said.

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