Page 3 - Lesser Florican - Silent Decline from Historical Ranges
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India needs focussed study on the
non-breeding grounds of lesser

floricans thoroughly and regularly.

L esser florican is one of the four bustard species of India, all of which are threatened
to become extinct as per the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
(IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Once found in abundance, the Lesser
Florican (Sypheotides indicus) is in actual danger of becoming extinct from India. The
rapid decline is tied to the obliteration of India’s least valued, and highly endangered
ecosystem—the grassland. Generally dismissed as ‘wastelands’, grasslands have been
massively diverted for infrastructure, real estate, roads, power projects, etc.
This month, our cover story titled, ‘Lesser Florican: Silent Decline from Historical
Ranges’ presents an ethnobiological analysis on how slowly and silently this beautiful
bustard has vanished from its former historical ranges where once it was in abundance.
This smallest and virtually endemic bustard of India is sliding from ‘Endangered’ to
‘Critically Endangered’ category very soon according to the latest report of the Wildlife
Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, submitted in June 2018. Also, India is suffering from
serious scarcity of ‘research-based conservation’ especially field researchers in grassland
ecosystems and that is the reason probably that the country is amongst the top ten in
the list of highest numbers of endangered and critically endangered, vulnerable, and
near-threatened bird species. India needs focussed study on the non-breeding grounds
of lesser floricans thoroughly and regularly. We also need to analyse data through
online sites such as to evaluate its proper population in the country for the
conservation of this magnificent species of birds.
The feature article this month throws light on the fact that ivory is the prime reason
behind poaching of elephants and their dwindling populations. The article also talks
about the measures that have been taken globally to stop elephant poaching. As far
back as in the 1960s, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of
Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was conceived as an international agreement between
governments. Today, it accords protection to more than 35,000 species of animals and
plants. The CITES programme for Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE), was
established by the Conference of the Parties (CoP) to CITES at its 10th Meeting at Harare
in 1997, in accordance with the provisions on trade in elephant specimens. Though
several initiatives have been taken up jointly by many countries, poaching continues to
remain a serious threat. However, poaching does not pose the only danger to elephant
populations. In its recently released report, the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI)
has blamed the inadequate food, lack of veterinary facilities, and cruelty meted out to
young cubs separated from their mothers for being reared for entertainment. Therefore,
the solution does not lie in just shutting down the demand for ivory by educating
populations. Alternative livelihood options that are just as paying are the real solutions.
Demand determines supply. When there is no demand for ivory, there shall be no
poaching at all.

Ajay Mathur
Director General, TERI
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