After antelopes, dogs have emerged as a major threat to the endangered Great Indian Bustard, inspite of conservation and breeding projects underway in the state to stop the bird, one of the heaviest flying birds, from being extinct.
According to wildlife enthusiasts, the bird is falling prey to stray dogs in desert areas of Jaisalmer, where the number of the canines has seen a spurt.
"These dogs have emerged as a major threat to conservation efforts. They kill the birds and even destroy their eggs," said Radheshyam Pemani, a wildlife enthusiast from Pokhran.
He said dogs routinely attack the birds in evening, when they come out to feed.
The weight of the bird which can be up to 15kg proves fatal for it when dogs attack. If the bird is alert, it takes a flight away from dogs but a delay weakens its chances of survival.
Until 1980s, up to 2000 Great Indian Bustards could be found in western India, reports say. But due to rampant poaching and dwindling grasslands, their population declined rapidly.
In 2011, the International Union for Conservation of Nature categorised the bird as "critically endangered".
A petition is being heard in the Rajasthan High Court for the safety and conservation of the endangered bustard, with a focus on identification and elimination of the threats to its life.
High-tension wires in the desert region have also been cited as another threat to the GIB.
Two days ago during the hearing of a case on the matter, the counsel representing the Wildlife Institute of India, Sanjeet Purohit, said that out of the total fatalities, 15 per cent are caused by high-tension lines, while about 8 per cent fatalities are caused by "other reasons".
"Though, efforts have been initiated in the form of mapping of the high-tension lines and wind mills in the proximity with the habitation of the GIB through satellite imagery, but threats like stray dogs has not been taken under consideration either by WII or the forest department," said Pemani.
According to him, officials are aware of the threat to the bustard from dogs, but there was a lack of seriousness to protect it.
Wildlife lovers believe that this requires a hand-eye coordination between the administration and the forest department with a view to check the growing number of canines.
Instead of dropping canines in rural areas from cities, the civic bodies should start a fool-proof castration drive to control the population of dogs.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)