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A Critically Endangered Bird That Alarms Catastrophe

Harrowing story of Great Indian Bustard on Indian Soil
A heartbreaking chronicle of a bird, every attempt to killing of which brought upheaval, calamity and disaster in South East Asian Subcontinent. Any thought of obliteration of shelter of which brought misfortune of famines and widespread devastation, any act of annihilation of habitat of which brought tragedy of death and destruction leading to one of the most bloodthirsty world war.
This is a story of an innocent Great Indian Bustard, that caused the alarm, fear and consternation on a wide and extensive landscape of Indian subcontinent, which in India has been left, unheeded for too long. A chronicle of a brutal murder of a giant-beautiful-fowl which has all the raison-detre subconsciously to trigger death of larger part of the mankind in the world. A dazzling and splendid big-feather-ill-fated-bird, which could have been most befittingly called a NATIONAL BIRD OF INDIA. The bird, destruction of which had been an instinctive cause in driving famines, death and destruction of humanity. Indian Maharajas, European Kings and mediaeval thugs started exterminating across-the-board beautiful habitat of this bird with a deadly passion of hunting, poaching and widespread shooting. Owing to viciously-exploitative colonial-policy-of-land-tenures, open-grasslandhome-range of this largest-flying-creature-in-India started getting diminished forever. Hunting Viceroys like Lord Linlithgow 1943, Lord Archibald Wavel, Lord Curzon 1905, Lord Reading, Shahs of Iran, King of Nepal, King of Afghanistan, King of Malaya, Prince of Germany, Prince of Wales, who visited India at the turn of the last century, on a historical shooting spree, destroyed plenty of these and other birds, which in chain reaction, swept across its wide ranging shelter. Exceptional-shooting-extravaganza of Archduke Ferdinand Franz of Austria 1893 in India, who was maddeningly obsessed in killing of the birds, the act of such royal big guns thrashed the far-reaching south Indian peninsular dominion of largest home range of this Indian-Ostrich. A bird which, howls like a tiger, a big fowl which sprints like a camel, a beautiful bird, famous for its elegant courtship-ballet-dance with a sound of mellifluous-resonance,-the fashionable hunting of which brought not only famines, naturalresource-scarcity, deprivation, but also food insecurity, death and starvation across the whole South Asian Continent. The last ray of hope still persists to help flourish this critically endangered ecosystem. Hope we may act now...A K Singh

Two fires were shot at Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, one pierced his skull and another ruptured his windpipe which further penetrated his wifes abdomen. Thus ended the dare devils life of game hunting and shooting. The assassination cast the epoch into a worldwide conflagration. But what were the reasons behind the man whose ferocious death triggered World War I ? He was heir-presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne and his over ambitious zeal of being despotic and repressively authoritarian was far-exceedingly-volcanic" which considered him "irascible bastard.". He was notoriouslydisreputable for his passion for blood-sport-shooting and hunting. He brought down 274,889 game animals all over the world as "feudal-mass-slaughter towards the first part of the twentieth century1. Royal prince of Hungary had an unimaginably fascinating flavor of shooting over 5,000 stags before a bullet ended his own life. Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, was murdered on June 28, 1914, when a Serb nationalist, opened fire point blank at his open motorcar, as it drove through the streets of Sarajevo finishing the ghost-of-

Two bullets fired at Prince of Hungary Arc Duke Ferdinand Franz and Sophie Maria his wife, the Duchess of Hohenberg, killing them in Sarajevo instantly which triggered world war I in 1914. Duke couple an hour before their assassination.

cascading -malaise, thus lodging a burgeoning-phantom-of-hunting-and-shooting-of-innocent-creatures into a clamorous ending5. Since her childhood, Sophie Maria the Duchess of Hohenberg of Czech Republic the wife of Archduk e Ferdinand Franz of Austria was fascinated by India. Ferdinand, a Royal Prince of Hungary, had an excessive flavor of game shooting. He was over passionate of trophy hunting that was excessive even by the standards of European nobility of his time. He killed 300,000 games, 5000 of which were deer alone2. Sophie was so predisposed with a splendor of giant wild animals of India, as she heard about wild beasts like Lions, Cheetahs, Tiger, Elephant, Wild Boar and other

The Great Indian Bustard has the potential of being called National Bird of India is found associated to Bengal Florican, Lesser Florican and Houbara Bustard

Ferdinand Franz brought down 300,000 trophy games and killed near 5000 deer in his life thus shooting 25 animals a day on an average. Notoriously disreputable for blood-sport hunting.

Sophia Maria and Ferdinand Franz went on their scientific expedition of the world in January 1893.

beautiful birds from her friends, writers, rivals and peers. She insisted upon Ferdinand to visit India. By chance, Asif Jah, the Nizam of Hyderabad Mahboob Ali Khan invited him in 1893 for big game hunting. Ferdinand Franz declared a scientific-and-ornithological expedition of his around-the-world-journey on SMS-Kaiserin-Elizabeth-Ship from 1892-93 travelling via Suez Canal to India, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and Japan4. The hot months of April and May when the jungles of his vast estate were dry and game was more easily spotted were considered the best time for Shikar-Expeditions. The royal saloon was shunted to platform at Hyderabad, one of Nizams private railway station, was made ready for arrival of the royal couple of Hungary, writes John Zubrzycki in his book-The Last Nizam, Rise and Fall of Indias Greatest Princely State. stating further-Food for the entire party of Ferdinand Franz and Sophie Maria was loaded on the train and attendants at the hunting camp alerted. Rifles, cartridges and all accessories, including gold topped walking sticks for the Nizam were sent ahead to the faraway jungles of Rollapadu in Karnool in Andhra Pradesh. As the preliminaries were on for hunting,

Ferdinand Franz spinned the silver coin in the air and Mahboob Ali Khan the Nizam of Hyderabad who was young man of 24 years hit the coin in every attempt, impressed the reckless and impatient young prince of Austria the Ferdinand Franz6. Sophie Maria keen to see the birds and beasts in the wild was impatiently waiting to be there in no time. She heard about Cheetah-tied-bullock-carts and black-buck-hunting-hobby much prevalent among Mem Sahibs of India. Tents were pitched near the Alaganoor tank which terminates into Tungabadra river near Nallamalla Forests. A massive tract of forests and the grassland ecosystem stretches, as Eastern Ghats which runs parallel to coromandel-coast close to Krishna and Pennar rivers as Palnadu basin merges into Tirupathi hills26. Sophie was excited at the picturesque magnificence of one of the finest grassland ecosystems in the world which support grassland specialist birds. From the hills of Nallamalla, sun rose the next morning and the valley was filled with spectrum of light amid clouds on a vast stretch of grasslands of

Great Indian Bustards used to frequently migrate from Mysore, Dharwad, Bellary, Gulbarga and Bidar on the borders of Andhra Pradesh

Ferdinand Franz with Nizam of Hyderabad Mahmood Ali and the party of hunters from India during 1893.

Rollapadu interspersed with thorny bushes and prickly shrubs. Entourage of royal elephants reached the valley. Six bullock carts tied with tamed Cheetahs were pressed into service for hunting expedition. Single barrel shotgun she knew are good for feathered small game. Wild game sports of hawking, wild geese, squirrels and turkeys, she learnt at her infancy. Sophie understood from G P Sandersons memoirs called Thirteen-Years Among-Wild-Beasts-of-India, where he opines:-The Great Indian Bustard occurs somewhat plentifully throughout Mysore-State in the open plains in the vicinity of scrub jungles. I have seen five feeding together, three commonly. I believe that the Bustards in Mysore State migrate across central and northern Indian states. It is exceedingly wary. Its note, usually uttered before daylight, is booming cry, not unlike distant shout, hence it is denominated the bird that calls like a man, ( hookana ) a local vernacular name Koogina Hakki18. Valley of Rollapadu was full of, -told A P Powell, the then British Resident of Hyderabad,black bucks, wolf, jackals, Indian Foxes, Bonnet macaque, Indian Bustards, Lesser Floricans, sparrows and mynas. The grasslands blossom with Aristida, Chrysopogons, Heteropogans, Sehima, Dicanthium and small trees like Morinda, Phoenyx etc. Perched on golden Howda Arcduke Ferdinand flanked with contingent of six elephants accompanied with A P Powell asked to be grounded and to march upon the grasslands on bullock cart. Cheetahs tied with bullock carts were used extensively for hunting of antelopes specifically black bucks, chinkara, spotted deer. Ferdinand

was highly enthusiastic hunter of birds. He knew the hunting of Bustards and Floricans along with black bucks, jackals and wolves will be a very stirring experience. And this was an ideal place in India for such a peripatetic-hunting never tasted before. Powell reminds the view of ornithologist Jerdon to Ferdinand saying,- the bustard frequents bare open plains, grassy savannahs interspersed with low bushes and occasionally high grass pasture. In the rainy season,

large numbers may be seen together stalking over the Geographical distribution of Great Indian Bustard and occurrence of summer visitors undulating plains of entire central in Pakistan. Eastern plains of Karnataka from Mysore to Bidar are natural habitat. India and the most of the Deccan peninsula. I have seen flocks of twenty four or more on a small hill. Towards the close of the rains, and in the cold weather before the long grass is cut down, the Bustard will often be found, all events in the heat of the day, concealed in the grass for eating large grass hoppers, blister beetles, foraging wheat, millet fields, along the banks of Tungabhadra river and they will fly against you at every few steps you take19. Sophie Maria accompanying Ferdinand asked for modern 0.36bore-express-rifle properly suited to the size and strength of a lady not much heavier than a broom. Ferdinand in the front of the fast moving cart stared at the edge of the large tank and flushed the bird, it took a long flight, with a steady and continued flapping of its wings at no great height above the ground upto 2 to 3 miles. Bustards, if they dont migrate, they change their feeding grasslands much according to the season and the supply of fruits of Ber (Zizyphus

jujube and Caronda ( Carissa caranda ), plenty of stocks of grasshoppers, beetles, Buprestis, Scarbei, caterpillars and lizards that during rains these abound galore in the valleys of rivers and tanks along the agricultural field of wheat, cotton and millets near the waste forest lands. Mahaboob Ali the Nizam was flanked besides the carts of Ferdinand couple, reminded them of his pursuits of shooting twelve foot alligators on lake from a specially imparted steam yacht and releasing panthers on the plain and then hunting them on horseback with spear. He was one of the finest shots in India19. Sophie and Ferdinand along the cart road alighted on the ground and walked several forlongs afar. Then Ferdinand spoke as to how another ornithologist Elliot told about the bustards being polygamous during breeding season of October to March. All of sudden, Sophie asked the Ferdinand to see the male bustard near the bush strutting about with some eminence, puffing out the feathers of his neck and throat, expanding its tail and ruffling its wings, uttering now and then a low, deep, moaning call heard in peculiar angle way off. It was a breeding season and expansion of its throat gave spectacular sighting through a pair of binoculars. Sophie saw with full enthusiasm, first the male began to strut about, holding its head up as high as if it wanted to lift itself off its legs, then after a few turns, it puffed out the upper part of the throat just under the jaws, then drew it again, then puffed it again and so on, on and on for three to four times and then suddenly out goes the whole throat down to the breast called the gular sac, and that part of the it next the latter swells more and more, its tail already cocked, begins to turn right back over the back, and the lower throat bag gets
Arcduke Ferdinand and Sophia Maria on arrival at Railway Plateform near Hyderabad January 1893 being welcomed by Nizam Mahaboob Ali, A P Powell and Prime Minister Nawab Asman Jah Bashir Ud Daula Bhadur, Photo: Raja Deen Dayal

bigger and bigger and longer and longer till it looks to be within six inches of the ground. All the feather of the throat stand out, and looked at in the front, it seems to have a huge bag covered with feather hanging down between its legs which quiver about as it struts here and there with wings partly unclosed and occasional sharp snapping of its bill. They saw this bird from time to time uttering a sort of a deep moan and standing quite still and then off it props again
Ferdinand Franz after tiger hunting in Sariska Alwar Rajasthan in 1892.Photo by Eduard Hodek Museam of Ethnology Vienna.

close upto female and then away from her. On both times, they witnessed these antics, the excitement

appeared gradually to relax with no manifest connubiality. This seemed to be a nautch dance for the propitiation of the female counterparts19. Ferdinand again disturbed the flock of bustards and some of them took long flight with a steady and continued flapping of its wings at no great a height above the ground for few furlongs. Ferdinand almost ridden down one of the bustard that it became so exhausted after a continuous flight of 2 to 3 Km that it came down tired and allowed its capture. Sophie Marry asked her escorting shikari Abdul as to noose the bird moving on the bullock. The fowler with a blanket folder over head and shoulder with few pegs and gut snared at its girdle, encircling gradually approaching closer and nearer dropping the blanket throwing up the arms to catch up with the bustard. Birds run for few yards and then rise and escape in flock of two or three and were caught by one leg walking across the lines of snares which were thirty to forty yards. No fraction of Trophies on exhibit at Konopisch castle near Prague sooner Sophie caressed the bird, a flock of 20 Small stuffed with antiquities which was Ferdinands most inexhaustible 19 to 30 bustards was sighted in the vicinity . passion of collection of trophies and ostentatious pomposity. Ferdinand required shikari Abdul to command cart of cheetah for hunting. Ferdinand took out the shotgun with a rifled slug and silencer shot dead four of them. Chasing far spreading birds on fast moving cart thrilled him. Flushed and disturbed, birds started moving. Seven of them were again brought down with a point blank target and were shot dead. Franz Ferdinand shot and killed so much of wild animals to such an amazing-excess then the nature took its revenge upon him and he was shot and killed in turn, which further took a nasty and revolting turn of the first world war. He was one of the wealthiest men in Austria. He developed three great passion, hunting, travel and jousting. Despite tumultuous political circumstances in Europe he found time to travel across the globe and in the guise of ornithological scientific expedition he spent hunting kangaroos, emus, in Australia, hawks, eagles, herriers, ducks, geese and vultures in Europe. Its impossible to know what was on the Archdukes mind during the last decades of this life, if the past was any indication, it was on guns and bloodsport-hunting. He left behind in his wake with a killing-for-killings sake ethos among

princes and kings world wide, his pathological obsession for hunting infested perversion and distortion among the ruling class of Europe and Asia. Ferdinand personally dispatched no less than 2,74,889 trophies of various wild animals to his museum at Prague. His favorite castle hunting lodge was Konopischt south of Prague which became most treasured hunting grounds where he made an ambitious collection of antic firearms, matchlocks, wheel locks, flintlocks and musketry. Castle is so ghoulishly festooned with exotic animal trophies that animal kingdom shall be bound to take revenge from humanity on dooms day3 & 4. Ferdinands favorite hunting expedition of all were the destination hunts and safaris in exotic far east forests. One article in Sydney Daily describes how Archduke sitting beneath a canopy, quickly, established himself as a first class marksman as twenty horsemen and even larger pack of dogs spent the greater part of the day driving the local wildlife within shooting range. Newspapers around the world full of Archduke praise and admiration of hunting,
Tamed blindfold Cheetah s were used for price catching of blackbucks and other ungulates during the British Raj for royal hunting expeditions over more than last two centuries.

shooting and stalking mesmerized the princes of the east for his crafty skill and astute workmanship of his varied wildlife hunting which was not less than bloodlust of wild animal sports-killing which was far excessive and vulgar7. When Ferdinand started his hunting expedition around the world in Dec 1892 at the age of 28 set sail in cruiser bound for North America via India, he was accompanied by over 400 sports-hunting amateurs. During the voyage Ferdinand penned over 2000 pages of his wildlife hunting experience in the world a nearly forgotten account of his blood thirsty adventures7. Even as he was slowly approaching the coast of India, he fired into the water with a shotgun to kill hundreds of skates, dolphins, and rays. Later he bagged vultures, elephants, tigers, sloth bear, skunks, monitor lizards, storks, bustards, floricans and hundreds of birds. Ferdinand was reported to be so obsessive and bloodthirsty hunter that he paid for his pressing-the-trigger-happiness with permanent damage to his eardrums. His porters carried 87 tents, bathing cabins, golden ceilings into the jungles of India. British governor of Nepal welcomed him when he arrived with an entourage of 203 working elephants for tiger hunt in the foothills of Himalayas. When the gold-bedecked Nizam of
Hunting of Busturds, floricans, ducks, geese, coots, cranes, pheasants, jackals and black bucks was a royal hobby during Britsh Raj 1857-1943 where millions of such birds were brought down.

Hyderabad invited him for dinner, in Falaknuma Palace, the table bowed under the weight of exotic dishes. A flock of brightly colored birds flew out of the cake when it was cut6. Euduard Hodek an accompanying naturalist and photographer explained Ferdinand that A O Hume an eminent Scottish Ornithologist who just got retired based at Shimla, founder of Indian National Congress in 1885, made a survey of these bustards telling, that Jerdon a naturalist observed,- breeding season of these birds varies a great deal in tune with pattern of rainfall and we have found eggs as early as first half of March and as late as first half of September too. In south India, they lay eggs during the cold season. The eggs are placed on the ground, at the base of some bush or tuft of the grass in a small depression, generally unlined, often thinly lined with a few herbaceous shrubs, often in clumps and patches of high thatching grass or the dense soft lemon grass, so characteristic of the favorite haunts alike of this Bustards and the Houbara bustards. Impression was that the Great Indian Bustard lays only one egg at a time but sometimes two eggs are found pretty close together, and either the females not infrequently lay very close to each other, or when a female does lay more than one egg, she deposits the second one some little distance away from the first egg19. One Nizamuddin Khan has taken more than a hundred of these eggs with his own hand and he never found two eggs side by side. Eggs are more or less oval, but moderately broad and slightly pointed at one end. Shells are very thick and strong closely resembling those of Sarus crane in texture and very commonly exhibit pimples and rigidities at the large end. The egg is earthly brown, pale reddish brown, dingy olive green to pretty reddish brown with clearly marked blotches, no two eggs are precisely same and varying in 2.75 to 3.42 inch19. Marquis Linlithgow Viceroy of India 1943 created as Ferdinand Franz with Nizam A P Powell 1893 the world record by bringing down 4272 birds shooting in s Mahaboob Ali in 1893 for British resident of hunting expedition. single day at Keoladev Ghana Birds Reserve. Hyderabad pointed towards the big congregation of associated population of 40 to 50 black bucks at the other side of the path which were moving in search of water and forage. Ferdinand asked Karl Pietzner an accompanying photographer to take the leverage from behind the Cheetah Cart and advised Mahboob Ali to alight from the horseback and advised them to prepare the hooded and blindfolded Cheetah keeping on leashes while dogs flushed out their prey. Thereafter tamed Cheetahs were released removing their blindfolds. Cheetah in a few moments over powered few fawns of the black bucks and grounded three male more black bucks. Sophie Marry was busy watching the scene with much enthusiasm and interest. Then Ferdinand from behind the scaffold of bullock cart riding on the horse back aimed at few black bucks and shot few of them and brought down instantly. Bodies of birds and black bucks then were loaded on carts for the transportation of the consignment for the purpose of making trophies later. Ferdinand Franz became famous in his hunting skill which reflected in most of the contemporary leading newspapers of Europe, USA and Asia. He influenced the kings and princes the world over preserving the vast reserve of the trophies and plaques which had never seen

before so far. Indian princes and Maharaja too got infatuated for development of their skill for hawking, bird stalking, big game hunting, and shooting in the Indian soil. Raja Ranjit Singh, Shah of Iran, King of Nepal, Raja of Mewar, Maharaja of Mysore, started game sports with renewed vigor with ghost of Ferdinand over powering their body, mind and soul. And started keeping stuffed trophies decorating their wild animal museums. Ferdinand Franz became the champion of trophy hunting and idol figure of ornithological shooting in the eyes of not only among Indian Maharaja but also amid Prince of Wales, Prince of Germany and King of Malaya. Trophies became the symbol of status, prestige and eminence of the royalty. Maharaja Surajmal Ruler of Bharatpur Rajasthan got Ajan bund Bidar, Gulbarga, Yadgir, Bellary, Davangere, Koppal, Belgaum, Dharwad, constructed at Keoladev due to which 30 and Ranibennur in Karnataka are favorable grassland ecosystems encompassing black bucks, foxes & jackals, where Bustards intermittently Km2 area got flooded with water at the try to fly over in search of shelter, forage and breeding every year. confluence of river Gambhir and Banganga which was declared as Hunting Reserve for various aquatic and terrestrial birds later in 1902. Boundaries of duck shooting were notified and Keoladeo-Ghana-Reserve became one of the most coveted and sought after bird hunting and shooting reserve of Bharatpur in Rajasthan, -quotes Salim Ali in his autobiography The Fall of A Sparrow- and further states was declared the fantastic private duck shooting preserve of Bharatpur Rulers. As long as the present Maharaja retained his powers there was no question or thought on his part of voluntary giving up his shooting rights and converting into a protected sanctuary. Apart from his casual shooting of ducks, A pair of Great Indian Bustard was sighted near geese, coots and cranes for sports and the table delicacy, Chelugurki village in Bellary in 2003, 2006, 2008 and he traditionally used to lay on four big hunting 2012 mostly in search of foraging and breeding. expeditions every season to which maharajas of India, Nepal, Malaya, princes of Europe and Middle East, Czars of Russia, Viceroys of Imperial colonies, Governors of states, top civil servants and military brass of British Empire used to be given royal invitation for pleasure hunting of birds. Numbered butts were allotted to the guns, distributed in strategic spots all over the lake. The whole operation worked with the mechanical precision of an army maneuver, with men of the state forces drilled as beaters to keep the birds moving over the guns and not letting them settle. Enormous holocausts were accomplished at some of these gargantuan

Great Indian Bustards continued to visit Ranibennur Sancuary in Dharwad for foraging and breeding till the end of the last century.

shoots and there are several records of two to three thousand birds killed in a single day, and three records even of over four thousand. The all time record bag of 4273 ducks and geese to 38 guns for Keoladeve Ghana was made in Nov 1938 with Lord Marquis Linlithgow the Ruling Viceroy as the presiding slayer. Although this British Governor Generals own contribution was not impressive, he did distinguish himself by creating what must be surely called a world record, of firing 1900 rounds of 12 bore ammunition from his own shoulder on that day20. Seven Lakhs Km2 of lands were lying waste and degraded then adjoining forested hills in the earlier part of the twentieth century in India which remains to be the beautiful habitat and shelter of these beautiful ecosystems of these Black bucks, Foxes, Wolves, Jackals, Bustrads, Floricans, Cheetahs and Leopards. Lord Cornwallis 1776 onwards brought Permanent Settlement of lands converting Zamindars and tax collectors into landlords, depriving cultivator to mere tenant, creating land allies for British, suppression of peasantry by landlords. Right to these lands conferred on Landlords initially in Bengal and Bihar was alienable, rentable and heritable. Privilege of utilizing the waste lands had become a saleable good. Cultivators were occupancy tenants with rights to hold the lands as long as they pay their taxes for default of which they could be evicted. Sizeable lands were sold, alienated and transferred to cultivators for improvement of revenue collection which was reported to have effected so called considerable change in better social-economic situation. Industrial revolution in England and import of cheap

Great Indian Bustard is an ecosystem encompassing beautiful avifauna of lessor florican, houbra bustards, black bucks, chinkara, neelgai, barking deer, foxes, wolves, jackals and leopards.

textile products into India, made indigenous textile cottage industries defunct and labor unemployed, who migrated to rural areas trying to secure land on lease for more and more farming. Relations between landlords and cultivators got strained due to the monopoly of controlling the means to secure livelihood shifted with arbitrary extortion to landlords as the demand for land increased exponentially which mounted pressure on adjoining lands22. Another land tenure system prevalent during British period was Ryotwari Settlement, established in Madras and Bombay presidencies by Sir Thomas Munroe where landlord Palegars with large estates were abolished. Hence a need was felt to make a settlement directly with actual cultivators. There was a growing income from land because of periodic revision of revenue under this system this led to diversion of millions of hectares of across-the-farm-natural-ecosystems22. Another significant objective behind establishment of this system was to protect cultivators from oppression of land lords which was rampant in the permanent settlement areas. However, there were some drawbacks in the Ryotwari System like exorbitant land revenue fixation, government's right to enhance land revenue at its own will, payment of revenue even when the produce was partially or totally destroyed and finally replacement of large number of landlords by one

giant land chieftain i.e. the one princely state. As colonial rule progressed, the typical Indian peasant or a village artisan faced a dual burden. Not only did the traditional feudal form of exploitation greatly intensify, the typical Indian villager was now also subject to the forces of mercantile capitalism. It had its eyes on any savings or assets that any villager might possess. Eventually, the typical Indian villager was stripped of all savings, and driven to mortgaging a considerable portion of any assets whether personal jewelry, land and livestock, or tools and equipment despite getting adjoining good fertile forested but degraded productive lands. In the colonial regime, several laws were passed that led to a catastrophic de-urbanization and deindustrialization of India. Trade tariffs and excise duties were set so as to destroy Indian industries, and squeeze domestic trade. In states like Bihar and Bengal, severe restrictions were placed on the use of inland water-ways causing fishing and inland shipping and transportation to suffer22. This led to even greater pressures on agriculture since large categories of highly skilled artisans and nonagricultural workers were thrown out of the work. When the British left, India had become the most backward a-poorvillage-based-agricultural-economy despite possessing millions of hectares of good fertile forested areas. India had inherited one of the most depressing scenarios in Asia15. A fairly densely populated nation with a pitiful urban base, a rural infrastructure in wrecks, a huge mass of population forced to survive exclusively on agricultural production and exploitation by thousands of big feudal intermediaries. However, the increasing sub-division of land was a constant source of problems and tensions in the People given famine relief by the government at Bellary, Madras countryside. There was a wide scale Presidency. Album from the Illustrated London News 1877 exploitation of agriculture laborers and peasants due to revenue intermediaries and accumulation of land with very few individuals15. So the government in independent India had to initiate appropriate steps towards reducing these problems and introduced Ceiling On Land Holdings. As result of this land distribution in India has been widely iniquitous, unfair and unjust with 3/4th of fertile land under the ownership of 7% of rural population while remaining 1/4th of the land highly subdivided and fragmented under ownership of 48% of rural population. The remaining 45% of rural population were landless or tenant-labors, of which approximately 25% were working as daily wagers on the land owned by others. It was therefore natural to expect that independent India would endeavor to correct inequity in the land People waiting for famine relief in ownership by Ceiling the Land Holdings which were brought Bangalore. Album from the Illustrated about by another reform like Rationalization of Land Tenure London News 20 October 1877 System. It led to Reform of Tenancy System which were required from the viewpoints of economic optimization of agriculture and equitable distribution of land

ownership. These three-pronged strategies have been the building blocks of land reform in independent India. Land reform had been recognized and accepted as an important instrument of economic and social change but these steps created havoc from the view point of environmental stability15. The First Five-Year Plan of Government had clearly mentioned the land policy and the specific land reform measures to be undertaken. Most of the states passed the legislations for abolition of Zamindari and similar exploitative land tenure systems. Now land tenure systems like Zamindari, Mahalwari, Jagir Inam, etc. were abolished in all the states. As a result of abolition of Zamindari and intermediaries, about 26 lakh intermediaries and 20 lakh tenants got proprietary rights of lands i.e. they became the land owners. This was considered to have had resulted in improving their economic and social conditions but not from the environmental point of view. The land revenue income of the states were also considered to have increased but at the cost of detriment to the millions of hectares of across-the-farm-natural ecosystems. Tenancy reforms were made for the removal of intermediaries between the state and the landholder. These reforms aimed to get "Land to the tiller"15. Millions of parcels of such lands were distributed at the cost of diversion of good natural ecosystems with plenty of fairly better bio-diversified flora and fauna. Emigrant artisans and town workers occupied such fresh piece of natural lands became the burden on the beasts. Almost all arid and semi-arid grasslands, open country with thorny scrubs full of tall grasses like Aristida, Chrysopogon, Sheima, Dicanthium interspersed with bushes and scrubs were cleared for collection of revenue by agricultural cultivation. Governments never knew that it will have to pay heavy prices, in the future, for such a diversion of
Great Indian Bustard continued to be hunted and its habitat was was continued to be encroached upon over a large part of India during the last two centuries for betterment of economic and social conditions.

vast tract of grassland ecosystems, in terms of compensation for billions of rupees for environmental catastrophes in the offing which are still being paid intermittently on alternate years for series of droughts, famines, flooding, cloudbursts, cyclonic destruction and climate change. After Independence considerable importance was given to collection and maintenance of land records so that they could form the basis of land development of the country. These situations helped in development of the present day land records system. Powers of granting lands were given to talluka and district authorities. Most of such lands which were considered to have lying waste lands were granted to landless laborers, poor artisans, unemployed rural manual workers after independence. There are still 5.5 Lakhs Bengal Famine took the toll of 2.5 millions of people with hectares of such pasture lands which are considered death, disease and destruction over the past two centuries. left as fallow lands, waste lands which are considered degraded-waste. But such lands were being used as community-property -resources for livestock grazing in the grasslands, pasture lands and meadows for local cattle and nomadic graziers15. Seeing all this, Lord Clive quoted, I ll pronounce Bengal and Bihar to be one of the most wicked places in the universe. Corruption, licentiousness and want of principle seemed to have possessed the minds of all the British Imperial Civil Servants. By frequent bad examples they have grown callous, rapacious and luxurious beyond limit31. Land

tenures were in the process of reforms, rationalization of the lands were solely for the purpose of collection of heavy revenue that too in cash and in advance. This was a viscous circle of highest order complexity. As result of all this around 4 million people died of starvation, malnutrition, half of them dying from diseases, highest mortality rate being among artisans, small traders struggled to get food. This Bengal famine caused major economic and social disruption ruining millions of families from Bengal and Bihar.There were series of crop failures, local epidemic pestilence like plague, kala azar, drought and famines all over. Supply of food reduced, demand of food grains rose sky high. Local unprecedented cyclones, unexpected tidal waves, thousands of hectares of such freshly occupied lands were swept by heavy winds and torrential rains. Nature had to take it own revenge31. The massive reserved stocks of foods got diverted for exports, side tracked for support of British Army on forefront, which killed nearly 1.9 Lakhs cattle and destroyed the property of 2.5 millions families of Bengal and Bihar. Fungus causing brown spot hit the rice crop, Helminthosporium oryzae fungus destroyed 90% of various rice variety. During 1874, famine, in British India, swept over 1.4 Lakhs Km2 and destroyed the property of 21.5 million people. Again next year famine sweeping across Madras, Mysore, Hyderabad and Bombay spreading through north, central provinces and Punjab which covered an area of 2.57 Lakhs Km2 and caused cataclysmic havoc on 5.85 Crores of population which increased the death toll, estimated to be 5.5 million people
Houbara Bustard is found in deserts and sandy areas of India and in Pakistan where it is continued to be hunted each year with 25 permits by govt allowing 100 birds each permit issued to rulers of Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Bharain, & Dubai.

and similar number of livestock in Bellary, Mysore, Bombay and Hyderabad provinces15. Great famine brought unprecedented catastrophe to entire Deccan Plateau by crop failure, commodification of grain, cultivation of alternate crops, destruction of adjoining forested lands, obliteration of contiguous natural ecosystems and annihilation of pristine wildlife habitat and genuine shelter of Great Indian Bustard. And there were series of 15 famines causing death and Victims of terrible famine of 1899 to 1902 in India caused widespread hunger, destruction during British rule in long term starvation and pervasive death of millions agro-pastoral communities. India starting from 1769 to 1943 sweeping across from Bengal, Madras, Mysore, Punjab, Rajpootana, Hyderabad, Gujrat, Agra, Delhi, Hissar, Bihar, Bellary, Ganjam, Ajmer, Bombay, Bundekhand, Hyderabad to Berar, killing 65 millions of people and their livestock, destroying the property worth billions of dollars. So called Great Famines caused due to the demolition of shelter of this Great Indian Bird which seemed to have proved to be so bastard or ominous16. This portentous ill-omen brought the threatening menace to the successive decades bringing frequent droughts, plagues and famines intermittently till today. In 1943 Famine Commissions declared that there was no aggregate food shortage in India but localized crop failures tantamount to occurrence of droughts and famines. Starvation death took its

toll among certain landless laborers, artisans, petty traders constituting 50% of rural population belonging to non-monetized exchange economy who were paid paltry in kind and paltry in cash or in the form of Jajmani system for reciprocal-cross-sharing-of -fixed-shares in the harvest. Food supply depended on their employment entitlements or the demand among the primary food producers for their services. But they were deprived of the means to acquire food. Famine Commission further reported, It was due to a cataclysmic break down of social and economic networks due to acquisition of the adjoining lands by emigrated labors towards villages who were deprived of profits by dependent least wealthy classes for giving them adequate support. Those owning only small plot of land, eke out their livelihood by its profits of their wages as laborers and rackrented-tenants-at-will living almost hand to mouth16. They were a little way removed from the class of fieldlaborers, they possess no credit and on them pressure soon began to mount leaving them helpless and destitute.Winston Churchil was found to be lynchpin behind this mess of foodgrains iniquitous supply and diversion off-shore for war-front deliberately during 1943. Osborne quoted by Mike Davis on Late Victorian Holocausts, Famines stating,- Scores of corpses of humans were tumbled into old wells, because the deaths were too numerous for the miserable relatives to perform the usual funeral rites. Mothers sold their children for a single scanty meal. Husbands flung their wives into ponds, to escape the torment of seeing them perish by the lingering agonies of hunger. Amid these scenes of death the Government of India kept its serenity and cheerfulness unimpaired16 During the last two centuries major portion of live forested ecosystems adjoining to the villages, contiguous to the agricultural lands, in the vicinity of forests which used to be the Bustards breed during March to September. Fluffy white feathers of wonderful pristine ecological-bio-diversified- the male are inflated and displayed in courtship along with gular sac which opens under the tung, swelling it so that a large wobbly network to the tune of 85 million of hectares is bag appears to hang dwon from the neck. Tail is held cocked up reported to have been granted as record-of-rights over the body and it raises a huge resonating voice (hookana) constitute the tragedy of commons resulting in mostly heard upto a distance of half a Kilometer. the depletion of shared local natural resources which proved contrary to the long term best interests of the local folks which ultimately meshed economic growth and sustainable development. Inspite of bearing the brunt of loss of more than a billion of killing of humans and livestock, despite inflicting ecological damage to the property worth billions of dollars we couldnt forge till today right ecological perspective with nature and natural resources.

Such Agro-pastoral-lands constitute beautiful habitat of such a unique ecosystems of varied species of avifauna, reptiles, black bucks, wolf, foxes and jungle cats. Asad Rahmani Director Bombay Natural History society and Senior Scientist, Y V Jhala Wild Life Institute of India 2010 claim, -such an open nesting ecosystem render these lands vulnerable to the threat of extinction from habitat conversion to agriculture cultivation, infrastructural development, road networking, trench cum mound ripping plantations and local hunting for its eggs and meat.There were 1260 numbers of Great Indian Bustards in India, 745 by 1978, 600 in 2001 which are currently left with 300 restricted to fragmented pockets in six states of Rajasthan Jailsalmer, Barmer , Bikaner Pali and Tonk Districts (125 Birds), Sholapur, Ahmednagar, Nasik and Chandrapur (50), Rollapudu, Ananathpur in Andhra Pradesh (30 ), Kuchch ,Bhavnagar, Jamnagar and Surendra Nagar in Gujrat (30), Bellary( 4 ) Gwalior in Madhay Pradesh (10), Kuchch shared with Pakistan (20). Great Indian Bustards discovered to have co-evolved with wild ungulates like Spotted Deer, Neelgai, Barking Deer, Black bucks, Indian Gazzel and Chinkara 77 million year ago in Africa and old world grasslands of South East Asian Subcontinent. Birds have broad omnivorous diet of fruits of Ziziphus, Carissa caranda, grass seeds, berries, rodents, tiny reptiles like Uromastyx spiny tailed lizards, insects like grasshopper, beetle, , food crops like ground nut, lintel, pods of legumes and millets. Polygamous lekking-mating system with dominant males showing site fidelity to their display stations are crucial factors for enhancement of the population of Great Indian Bustard24. Govt of India declared eight Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary (except

Bustard is geographically distributed in entire old world India, Pakistan, China, Kazakhstan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Africa.

Karnataka Ranibennur Sanctuary) to maintain small scattered refuges with large buffers, an age old traditional breeding spots, protecting them during breeding season, to exclude cattle so as to provide habitat suitability, by securing activities, like lekking, nesting, chick rearing and foraging. Grasslands and scrub have been considered as wastelands and the forest departments action, until recently, has been to convert these shelters to forests with plantations of fuel, fodder, shrub trees even exotic like Prosopis juliflora, Gliricidia, Eucalyptus, Acacia auriculiformis under either Social Forestry or compensatory afforestation, development of large water bodies, delineation of reserve grass lands, resulting in further loss of habitat. Ecologically fragile area conservation in the fringes of protected areas resulted in explosion of Black Bucks and Neelgai population hunting of them antagonized the local agro pastoral communities entailing vengeance killing of Great Indian Bustards. Populations of nearly 40 to 50 birds, -with-more breeding females under favorable chances of survival, -with- protected nesting over a vast stretch,-with-no second year mortality,-with-reduced frequency of catastrophe, -with-no irrigated inundation of water,-with-no disturbance from cattle and humans, with-plenty of food availability seems to forge the potential to revive and recuperate in the long term. Hunting of males as game birds, can plummet

even the largest population to extinction for example in neighboring Pakistan. Low intensity of poaching in India still continues specifically in western Rajasthan and Kachch shared with Cholistan desert and Sindh Pakistan where 49 birds were hunted out of 63 that were sighted over a period of 4 years. This level of removal is unsustainable and threatens the extinction of the largest global western Indian population within next 15 years24. Next day immediately after the rains, Sophie Maria stared at the flock of around 30 to 40 Great Indian Bustard behind the bushes near the tanks through her binoculars. Sun was fiery orange hot, clouds just subsided, and reflectance of the light was enabling everything to be observed crystal clear. Bustard bird about a meter height with a black cap was contrasting with pale head and neck. Bird with a body with a brownish to black patch spotted in white was moving with frequently pulverizing well developed gular pouch which were inflating with its deep resonant hoonkanacalls. This could be heard even by a farmer from half a kilometer. Bird was carrying young chicks under its wing. Male in the adjoining, started inflating fluffy white feathers with frequent puffing of its gular sac
Austro-Hangarian Troops executing captured Serbians. Serbia lost about 850,000 people during the war. It sparked off world war I.

which opens under the tongue. Large wobbly bag appeared to hang down from the neck. Tail was held cocked up over the body. Male

also raised its tail and started folding it on its back. Male was periodically producing a resonant deep booming call which was being heard by Sophie. Wow ! Such a wonderful resonating voice ! Sophie screamed in a flurry of excitement. It was a scientific ornithological expedition of the prince of Hungary which necessitated plenty of crucial information. Perhaps this was an advance booming call for mating and courtship. Abdul said to Royal Highness,- the hens lay a single egg in and unlined scrape on the ground madam. Only females incubate and take care their young chick. The eggs are at the risk of destruction from ungulates and cows. Sophie asked out of curiosity if some eggs could be made visible. Brutality of imperial forces, corruptible race superiority, struggle Abdul went nearby then the hen started for indecent arms race, tyrannical nationalism & war mongering making distraction display flying zigzag away led to World War I and the Great Depression as result of market from its egg. More than half of the total crash, rich and poor divide, cash-cropping, mining & logging. number of eggs are either eaten away or destroyed or predated by wolf, crow, jackals, monitor lizards and mongoose and half of them are left for hatching. Abdul told, out of 10 eggs left here madam, jungle crow predated on two eggs and Indian fox on five eggs while one egg was trampled by cattle, one egg was found infertile and two eggs were deserted 25. No sooner Sophie Maria was busy getting acquainted with tale of survival of these birds from Abdul then Ferdinand Franz rode on the horse along with Mahaboob Ali the Nizam, strolling slowly towards the flock of birds behind the bushes took the target from his shot gun and brought down fourteen of them one by one.

German historian Michael Freund described Ferdinand Franz as-man of uninspired energy, dark in appearance and emotion, who radiated an aura of strangeness, whose devilish-obsession murdered colossal rate of innocent natural creatures, a man who cast a shadow of violence and recklessness. Having hunted hundreds of thousands of bird and wild animals, in disguise of Royal Ornithological Scientific Expedition of birds and wild animals for trophies couple returned back to Veinna2. They had been previously attacked when a grenade was thrown at their car in the wake of Ferdinands advocacy of tripartite combination of AustroHungary cum-Slavic-Kingdom which was vehemently dissented by Slavic. Ferdinand deflected the grenade and it detonated far behind them4. He was known to have shouted in anger to local officials, So you welcome your guests with bombs ? The royal couple insisted on seeing all those injured at the hospital. After travelling there, Franz and Sophie decided to go to the palace, but their driver took a wrong turn onto a side street of Sarajevo, where Princip the murderer spotted them. As the car was 50 million people felled by pandemic bird flue (Spanish Influenza backing up, Princip a Slavic antagonist Virus) H1-N1, killing 9.3 million soldiers spreading towards approached and shot Sophie in the abdomen almost every part of the globe wiping out number of communities. and Franz Ferdinand in the jugular. Ferdinand was still alive when witnesses arrived to render aid. His dying words to Sophie were, Dont die darling, live for our children. Princip had used the Browning 0.32 ACP cartridge, a relatively low-power round, and a pocket-sized FN model 1910 pistol. The archdukes aides attempted to undo his coat but realized they needed scissors to cut it open. It was too late. He died within minutes. Sophie also died en route to the hospital. And thus ended the life of a great hunter the world has witness so far. The assassination of Ferdinand Franz did Soldiers who contracted Avian Influenza Pandemic Spanish Bird provide a spark that put the wheels in motion Flue Virus H1N1 at Camp Funston during March of 1918 which for the most deadly confrontation on brutal rendered millions of people sick the world over, tent hospitals had forces of imperialism, a fiercely venomous to be set up to deal with the crisis costing millions of pounds. powers of nationalism who were destroying the nature and natural-resources the world over, a ferociously cruel empires of militarism who were wreaking a havoc on innocent humans and other creatures, violently merciless forces which were indulged in nefarious designs of nuclear arms race who destroyed cities, towns and jungles of India, Japan and other island nations2. Ferdinand Franz seemed to be haunted with the dead evil after committing a ruthless murder of enormous wild animals all over the world, a phantom of malevolent-wicked-spiritafter slaughtering recklessly indiscriminate rate of birds, a ghost weird-with-bad-omen- as if entire animal kingdom wanted to take its ghoulish revenge from the humanity which perpetrated long term injustice to them. Slavic nationals flew into the paroxysm of rage with long standing simmering of their revengeful feelings for this despotic and notorious killer of birds and blood-thirsty hunter. His wild life hunting expeditions and point blank expertise of shooting became the object of abhorrence, hatred and abomination by larger part of the Slavic communities. His manifest conduct of spontaneous outbursts seemed to be nothing but the his over-confident tone of tyrannical repressive spirit. Perhaps the nature wanted to take its own revenge. Assassination of Franz Ferdinand added

fuel to fire. Since long there was a scene of simmering high tension among Great Powers of British, France, Russia and Japan on one side and Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey on the other. Resurgence of brutality of imperial forces of British empire, long term exploitation of proletariat in Russia, arms-race for preparation of large scale war. Three years of horrific slaughter had bled the notoriously brutal nations of entire Europe. Daily life in miserable trenches drove men insane, constant artillery bombardment killed thousands without warning, massive infantry assaulted through barbed wire and machine guns massacred

millions of humans, livestock and other animals. Disease of Pandemic Bird-Flue spread during 1918 in entire Europe which engulfed entire globe leaving about 50 millions of people dead from the outbreak of H1N1 influenza spreading from soldiers to ruling classes which wiped out almost 5% world population at the time, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in the human history. Country in the center of the Europe the Spain was hard hit. It was described the greatest-medical-holocaust in history of the world. Contrastingly most amazing outcome was that this Bird-Flue-Virus did not affect weak, feeble and famine affected frail people, instead, 1918 pandemic killed predominantly healthy young adult humans attacking first the King Alfonso XIII of Spain31. Under British regime, pastoral meadows and uncultivated common natural lands were considered uneconomic-wastelands that were granted, owned, taxed and brought under the agricultural cultivation. After independence, the focus on agricultural productivity and land reforms caused a further acquisition of pastoral-common lands. Out of 15% of the total geographical area of India, 23% is community pasture and grazing lands and 16% remains to be village forests, deemed forests and thickly wooded areas left for maintaining these as grassland ecosystems in juxtaposition to each other. For example in rural Punjab people set about acquiring 20 Lakh acres of common grazing lands, expropriating pastoralists, setting up agricultural colonies, constructing canals and granting blocks of lands to peasants. Arid-pastoral lands become the spool of poverty, ignorance and oppression. Commercial agricultural cropping of notorious cotton extended into the village commons displaced the cattle, huge livestock and pastoral communities in Hyderabad-Berar state leading to vicious spell of drought, famine, crop failures, compelling the farmers to committing suicide with alarming regularity53.

India inherited the British System of Administration, British Legal System and British System of Land Tenure as a result of which country faced series of terrible famine and enormous shortage of fodder and firewood till today. Large agricultural land holdings were forcibly divided, parceled out and distributed to landless communities. Under mounting pressures of Dalit movements small portions of land unfit for cultivation were granted to them most of whom never practiced agriculture. Collective struggle and personal tussle to be able to own land by these communities turned into a never ending battle to keep small parcels of land alive and under the same crop cultivation for decades together. Litigations piled in the court of law54. Very soon the division of land ended up dividing communities leading to income disparities and widespread discontent, for now many villages had lost their common grazing lands to private ownership, who were finally pushed out of their village grazing lands and commons, migrating from one village to other towns and even far flung cities of other states in search of fodder, fuel and sustenance. Private ownership alienated such lands for commercial use of civil and other business constructions. Government desire to growRanibennur Sanctuary in Karnataka is a favorable habitat for Great Indian Bustards more-food rendered agropastoral-commons and grazing grounds to crop cultivation. New irrigation schemes and Green Revolution led to phenomenal increase in bumper crop production. Green Revolution prompted more and more lands to be acquired for agriculture and milk production from which emerged out a White Revolution. Drought Prone Area Programs DPAPs were launched for more and more soil and water conservation which culminated into enthusiastic Water Shed Development Programs. This imposed ban on livestock grazing and enforced prohibition of cutting, lopping and topping of fodder and firewood53. Outcome, those communities that were landless and depended on village commons migrated out of these watershed areas. It was expected that fodder would be regularly lopped, cut and given for stall feeding to dairy livestock. Till it could happen, communities migrated leaving the ungrazed-grasslands abandoned, catching fire when summer winds dried them. The desire was not so much to provide the people around with an available natural resources, rather to keep them, who depended on the commons, out. Fast growing and high yielding species, which did not have any special value of fodder or fuelwood were planted massively over vast tracts of such lands. Eucalyptus was a favorite species which largely benefited the paper and pulp industries was afforested on mass commercial scale which seemed to have altered the habitat use of these birds. Fear of rapid desertification propelled the forest department and other agencies to plant Prosopis-juliflora in Rajasthan and exotic Accia auriculiformis, Cassia siamia, Glyricidia in Karnataka for improvement of degraded areas, on a considerable vast tracts of lands which altered and changed the basiclandscape-configuration and natural fabric of such agro-pastoral-lands wherein this ecosystem had to be further nourished and improved for facilitating favorable habitat of these birds52.

Livelihood-insecurity and food-uncertainty haunted the nomadic seasonal cattle graziers to wander long distances hither and thither. Forest Rights Act 2006 granted legal recognition to millions of forest dwelling communities over these earlier abandoned millions of hectares of agro-pastoral-forested-tracts mounting unprecedented pressure over the territory of Great Indian Bustard. Now, with the advent of climate change, mitigation and adaptation programs, suchnon-cultivated-wastes have been taken for Clean Development Projects CDM or REDD+ to convert these into economically productive agricultural lands, plantations or afforestation which could serve as carbon-sinks51. Bio-Fuel, bio-diesel, wind energy and solar power projects will further have an overriding impact on such gorgeously beautiful landscapes. Due to myopic- land-distribution and the ambiguity arising from segregated ownership between private, community and government bodies, encroachment ensued in many bustard areas, especially in and around bustard sanctuaries of Maharashtra, Kachchh and other habitats. Activities such as mining, stone quarrying, growth of industries and power projects along with the expansion of roads, electric poles, wind turbines and other infrastructures have increased the ruthless destruction of habitat and inflicted disturbance beyond expectation .Traditionally, grasslands and scrub have been considered as wasteland and the Forest Department, until recently, has been converting beautiful pastures into forests with plantations of fuel/fodder shrub/tree species, even exotics like Prosopis juliflora, Gliricidia and Eucalyptus spp, under social forestry and compensatory afforestation schemes in view of the Forest Conservation Act 1988, resulting in further loss of the habitat. However, the current threats were mostly from habitat loss and degradation, caused by widespread agricultural expansion and mechanization of farming, infrastructural development such as irrigation, roads, electric poles, wind turbines, civil-constructions, mining and industrialization, well intended but ill-informed habitat management. With increased availability of water due to encouraging irrigation schemes, agriculture has spread over vast aridsemiarid grasslands50. Though some protected areas have been specifically established for flourishing this ecosystem. SonkhaliyaSarson, Lala-Naliya, Gaga-Bhatiya, Karera, Ghatigoan, Nanaj and Ranibennur. Very good populations occur in Desert National Park in Rajasthan and Rollapadu in Andhra Pradesh. Bustards seem to have abandoned Karera, Gaga-Bhatiya and Ranibennur probably due to habitat alterations. Revival of grasslands, maintenance of arid and semi-arid-grasslands, used as agro-pastoral-landscape, with scattered short scrub, bushes and low intensity cultivation, in flat and gently undulating terrain, will definitely improve foraging and lekking sites. Birds congregate in less-disturbed-traditional-grassland-patches to breed during mid-summer and postmonsoon for nesting in open grounds for laying one or at the most two eggs per year. Thereafter it resorts to local and long-distance-nomadic-migration in response to better availability of fruits, berries, in response to obtainability of insects and grains surrounded by protected natural grass-scrub habitat for free navigation. It requires different assortment of favorable micro-habitat of grasslands with relatively tall vegetation on slightly elevated undulations of ungrazed-fields with sparse vegetation, with minimal scrub, for roosting and moderate vegetation for shade and resting24. In order to enhance the population of GIB the Great Indian Bustard and to restore such a vast grassland ecosystem which prosper under slightly better diversified flora and fauna, we need 1) To make efforts for ecological restoration of maximum possible extent of undisturbed arid grasslands, 2)To check degradation

and reduce the disturbance in existing grassland-agro-pastoral-landscape. 3) We need to forge natural grassland restoration, legal framework for grassland preservation juxtaposed to the forests, sanctuaries and national parks. 4) We need to protect and conserve many lekking sites and nesting spots. 5)We need to coordinate different wings of government departments including support of various stakeholders. 6) We need to prevent livestock overgrazing and feral dogs. State Governments must secure and fully protect all lekking sites. This may be the single most important step in saving the species. A lekking site is a traditional place where males gather to display and attract females. If these sites are subjected to disturbance or degradation, Great Indian Birds may not be able to breed, even if large areas of potential habitat are protected, but specific lekking sites are not, then Bustards numbers will continue to slash down. Since there are multiple threats to these sites, such as industrial development, agriculture, irrigation and highways. This step needs political will and cooperation by multiple government departments and local communities. State Governments must constitute a Bustard-Task-Force in every Great Indian Bustard State including Karnataka, where it has been recently sighted and struggling hard to settle down amid wide and extensive agro-pasture lands of Bellary, Dharwad and Belgaum, with a handpicked membership that includes dynamic and committed government officials from different departments, biologists, conservationists, and local community leaders. 7) A full-scale Project Bustard based on a sound scientific plan need to be developed in consultation with national and international experts, as well as key people from each Great Indian Bustard State need to be launched all over India. 8) We need to examine the feasibility of captive breeding by constituting a core group of experts that includes international experts with experience in breeding bustards or similar endangered birds in captivity. The recovery of the California condor, a large-sized, slow breeding bird that was on the verge of extinction, was a result of captive breeding. From 22 birds left in the wild, their numbers have increased to 405, with 226 living in the wild. England is celebrating the hatching of four chicks of Bustard which was hunted down to extinction in the UK in 1832, but re introduced it again in Salisbury Plains in Wiltshire six years ago. This is the second year in which birds have been reared and bred successfully in the wild. 104 birds have been reared in Russia before being flown to the UK and released into wild. Last year, at least three chicks were born in the wild and this year at least four more have been spotted24. View film.
A K Singh is the member of Indian Forest Service 1997 serving in the Ministry of Forest, Ecology and Environment, Government of Karnataka. This is a tragic tale of an exclusive but brutally-trampled-ecosystem running millions of miles which used to flourish centuries back. Royal game hobby of hawking, bird stalking, sports-hunting of big birds, wolves, jackals and foxes during the last three centuries wiped out one of the most strikingly dazzling grassland-ecosystem of India. This chronicle is an account of dramatized historical non-fictional tale, written to spark the curiosity among the readers and flame the fire of excitement and interest among those who can make the difference. An awfully horrendous saga of Great Indian Bustard, enriched by a wealth of many first and second hand sources, published and unpublished memoirs, letters and diaries of British Officers, Maharajas, Princes and Kings of Europe of later part of the nineteenth and the beginning of twentieth century. The tale reminds us about this forgotten era of British empire and Maharajas and gives us vivid details of our lost status of richest and one of wealthiest bio-diversified nation in the world. The account is reminiscent of the fact as to how we take up the cause of conservation. Published for the cause of conservation and safeguarding the interest of one of the most critically endangered species and to tell us the fact that there is still time to act, and the time to act is just now, before it is too late. Contact 9481180956 and, 15.10.2013.
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