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| Last Updated:: 24/09/2016

Study finds parasite posing threat to Great Indian Bustard







Habitat loss and hunting are not the only problems leading to decline in population of Great Indian Bustards (GIB). A recent study reveals the bird, listed as critically endangered by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and under Schedule I (the highest protection status) of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, is also facing a threat from parasites.

A study done on droppings of GIB by researchers of Nagpur and Solapur has for the first time recorded presence of Cestode parasite from the genus of parasitic tapeworms 'Choanotaenia' in it. Occurrence of the parasite has raised serious concerns as pathological findings suggest that Cestode infection can cause morbidity in GIBs and pose a major threat to their population.

The research, which recently got published in Ela Journal of Forestry and Wildlife, stated that detailed investigations to determine the impact of such parasites are needed. The study began in May last year in the agricultural areas near Nannaj GIB sanctuary in Solapur. "We were conducting our routine ecological study of GIB when we came across several fresh droppings in agricultural fields frequented by two male bustards. We collected the samples and took it for laboratory testing," said Rajshekhar Hippargi, associate professor of Zoology in a Solapur-based college. Examination of droppings showed presence of tapeworms.

To find out more about the genus of parasite, samples were brought to the research centre of Society for Wildlife Conservation, Education and Research (Wild-CER) in Nagpur. After detailed testing at the Department of Veterinary Parasiotology, Nagpur Veterinary College, the parasite's presence was confirmed, informed founder director of Wild-CER Dr Bahar Baviskar.

Baviskar added that the parasite was mostly found in domestic and poultry birds. "Literature we have referred to confirms that the parasite can lead to death of the bird. In Spain, high parasitic burden caused by cestodes was reported in the post-mortem examination of a wild Great Bustard. Enteric cestodes are known to cause depression, haemorrhagic enteritis, weakness and anorexia in birds," he said.

The study highlights the need of research on diseases that pose threat to wildlife. "There are no recent published records on cestode parasites occurring in GIB in India. At a time when GIB's population is nearing extinction, a survey of parasites in animals is needed. When carcasses of poultry birds are dumped openly, it puts GIB at great risk as disease can spread to them," said Baviskar.






·        Great Indian Bustard faces threat from parasites

·        Study records presence of Cestode parasite (tapeworm) in droppings of GIB

·        The parasite is usually found in domestic and poultry birds and can cause morbidity in GIBs

·        Need for study in parasites in animals to minimize risk of exchange of diseases






Great Indian Bustard is listed as critically endangered by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and under Schedule I (the highest protection status) of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972


Globally, around 300 birds remain in the wild in fragmented populations in the states of Rajasthan, Maharashtra, AP, Gujarat and Karnataka



·        GIBs are on the verge of extinction due to modernization of agricultural practices and rapid infrastructural development    






 Source: The Times of India

              The Hindu