The Great Indian Bustard, once a contender for national bird status, is now critically endangered. Can the captive breeding programme in Rajasthan reverse the tide?
Left: Three Great Indian Bustard chicks at the Ramdeora captive breeding centre
Two temperature-regulated shelter homes in Rajasthan, some 170 km apart—one near the famous dunes of Sam and the other next to Pokhran—house 23 chicks of the Great Indian Bustard (GIB). They have never seen the outside world and will never be released. Scientists have hatched them from eggs in captivity and will wait for them to breed. The chicks of the ‘founder population’, as they are called, will then be released into the wild. For the woefully endangered GIB, it’s a matter of life and death, and a lot hinges on the success of this project.