One of the greatest flying birds, the great Indian Bustard is indeed a miracle among the fauna of Rajasthan. With a splendid height of 3.3 ft, large horizontal body, and bare long legs the bustard resembles a common ostrich. Moreover, alike ostrich, the bustard too is omnivores and enjoys feeding on beetles and orthopterans (insects like grasshoppers and crickets), and wild berries and legumes alike. The Indian Bustard are big birds and are also often sighted (as often as an endangered specie can be) feeding on smaller reptiles and rodents.
When it comes to consumption of water, the great Indian Bustard can survive on a very little amount of water for days. What it cannot survive, however, is habitat loss and degradation.
The maniac progression of the infrastructure and industrialization in the areas of their habitat is presently the direst threat for the population. It has caused alarming fall in their population in the last few decades, bringing their status from ‘Threatened’ to ‘Critically Endangered’ in just 23 years.
As per the last statistics of WII (Wildlife Institute of India) and the Rajasthan Forest Department, there were only 13 adult Indian Bustards left in Rajasthan in the year 2015. These facts are astonishing considering that the state government had already initiated the campaign ‘Project Great Indian Bustard’ on World Environment Day in 2013 that includes acquiring new and conserving the existing breeding grounds for the bustards.
The dry semi-desert regions are among the most preferred terrain for the great Indian Bustards, a preference they share with another fascinating creature from Rajasthan- Blackbuck. It is a wonderful sight to catch these two somewhat congruent, highly coexistent masterpieces of fauna together in their natural habitat. Their brown body merging in the golden environment, the elaborate white and black patches giving a striking color effect to the aesthetic scene.