Wildlife disappears from fragile Kutch
[ 24 Dec, 2006 2159hrs ISTTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]
BHUJ: Kutch would have to bid adieu to some of the rarest species in the world, warn ecologists and conservationists, if there are no efforts made to curb the frantic rate of degradation in the region.
For instance, the next time you spot a dugong off the Kutch coast, it could just be the last of the species. The species has not been spotted off the coast for the past two years.
The spotting of three caracals — a rare nocturnal cat species — in Narayan Sarovar sanctuary in Kutch early this year has excited conservationists.
Another endangered species, the great Indian bustard, has grown from 27 members in 1995 to only 45 recently in their grassland habitat in the Naliya region of Kutch.
The hatching of three eggs of the endangered bird was a delightful sight for forest officials. Conservationists have already sounded the alarm on the bustard.
The government had increased the area of the bustard sanctuary from 200 acres to 2,000 acres this year.
Conservationists at Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) feel that this is not enough and the bird needs more land.
"Two dead dugongs with gashes were spotted two years ago after they were hit by boats. The species has not been sighted since then. They generally prefer shallow waters and are never aggressive,"says chief conservator of forests, HS Singh.
A nation-wide study has been entrusted to the Gujarat Environment Engineering Research( GEER) Foundation to search for dugong habitat along the nation's coast.
"Dugongs are the only marine herbivorous mammals that grow up to eight to 13 feet and live up to 55 to 70 years. Conservation is tough as they breed once in three to seven years. One has to look for an alternative location for them other than the Jamnagar coast,"says chairman of Corbett Foundation in India, Dilip D Khatau.
For the caracal,Kutch conservator of forests RL Meena says, "We could only spot three caracals after nine years recently.
These are shy creatures and highly endangered. Human interference in surrounding areas of the 443 square kilometre Narayan Sarovar sanctuary is one of the main reasons for their disappearance."Adds BNHS director Asad Rahmani, "The great Indian bustard would soon disappear if we do not stop excessive grazing in the Naliya grasslands.
Forest officials should cordon off the sanctuary limit between July-September every year if they want the rare bird to survive."