Habitat Suitability Assessment of Ardeotis nigriceps (Vigors) in Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary, Maharashtra (India) Using Remote Sensing and GIS
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Ardeotis nigriceps, commonly known as Great Indian Bustard (GIB), is a Critically Endangered, Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Threatened (EDGE) and endemic species to the Indian subcontinent. GIB is under tremendous threat in its last strongholds and sliding inextricably towards extinction. The GIB sanctuary in Maharashtra (India) is one of the last refuges of the bird constituting an area of 8496 km2 spread over in seven talukas of Solapur and Ahemednagar districts. Major portion of the sanctuary (94.3 %) consists of privately owned lands under a variety of economic vocations and large number of villages and townships. In view of the legal restrictions relating to Protected Area under the Wildlife (Protection) Act of India 1972, the inhabitants of villages and townships faced a very difficult situation regarding use of their lands, development of properties and deriving benefits from planned local and regional development. This created conflict between local people and the forest department over the use of land, which necessitated the rationalization of the sanctuary. The objective of the present study was to map the suitable habitat of GIB in GIB Wildlife Sanctuary as an input for the realignment of the GIB Sanctuary by identifying areas that are important for the GIB. Main parameters considered for the habitat suitability assessments are, habit and habitat of GIB, slope, minimum patch size and disturbance sources. Based on the criteria derived for the ecological and biological requirements of GIB, binary deductive habitat suitability modeling has been done using remote sensing and GIS and prioritized the potential habitats of GIB. The net area of important suitable habitat of GIB in GIB sanctuary is 2304.99 km2 out of 8496.44 km2. The output of the present study has been used as an input by the committee (set by Honorable Supreme court of India) on rationalization of the GIB Sanctuary and the sanctuary has been rationalized with an area of 1222 km2.
KeywordsHabitat suitability assessment Deductive Great Indian Bustard Remote sensing GIS
We are thankful to Erach Bharucha, Member, Committee on Rationalization of GIB Sanctuary (CRGIB) and Director, Bharti Vidya Peeth Institute of Environment Education and Research, Pune, Rahmani A.R., Member (CRGIB) and Director Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai, for sharing their knowledge about habitat requirements and habits of the wildlife of GIB Sanctuary, especially GIB.
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