Mumbai: Alarmed by the dwindling population of endangered grassland species Great Indian Bustard, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) along with Pune Wildlife Division has initiated a survey to find out the total grassland areas and to know the population of grassland species in Maharashtra.
The population of grassland species of Great Indian Bustard is less than 200 throughout the world, while the population of it in Maharashtra itself is less than 10. BNHS kick started its survey in July 2016 with the help of Pune Wildlife Division and Chandrapur forest department. The main objective of the survey is to find out the status of grasslands in Maharashtra and the number of grassland species.
Grassland species include Lesser Florican, Indian Gray Wolf, Blackbuck, Chestnut-bellied sandgrouse, Indian Courser, Black Chinkara and Great Indian Bustard.
Over the years, grasslands have become a soft target for developmental activities since it does not fall under the protected area.
The western Maharashtra which falls under the grassland area consisting of Sholapur, Sangli, Usmanabad, Marathwada, Jalgaon were identified for conducting the survey.
During the survey, it was found that the areas of western Maharashtra consisting of namely Solapur and Chandrapur were encroached by developmental activities affecting the grassland areas and thereby affecting the species that were dependent on grasslands.
Sujit Narwade, Project Scientist at BNHS, said, “We found out that there were hardly any remote areas left in western Maharashtra. Also many were affected by developmental activities which in turn affected the population of several grassland species also.”
“Till now the population of Great Indian Bustard was found to be only four to five in Western Maharashtra. Grasslands being a larger area, it becomes difficult to cover and count the species. Hence the population of Great Indian Bustard will not be more than 10 in Maharashtra,” added Narwade.
A detailed report on the status of grassland and grassland species would be submitted to BNHS after the survey is completed by October end.