Great Indian Bustards : Firefly Bird Diverter | UPSC

Great Indian Bustards : Firefly Bird Diverter | UPSC


‘Fireflies’ to shine a light for Great Indian Bustards

      WHY IN NEWS:

Flaps placed on overhead power lines help the threatened bird species in the wild to avoid collision

MINISTRY? :-Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Conservation of Flora and Fauna : IUCN


Power lines, especially high-voltage transmission lines with multiple overhead wires, are the most important current threat for GIBs in the Thar region.


  • The initiative is for overhead power lines in areas where Great Indian Bustard (GIB) populations are found in the wild.
  • The GIB is one of the most critically threatened species in India, with fewer than 150 birds left in the wild.
Great Indian Bustards near power lines fitted with firefly detectors.
  • They are causing unsustainably high mortality in about 15% of their population.


The Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change, along with the Wildlife Conservation Society, India, has come up with a unique initiative — a “firefly bird diverter” .


  • Firefly bird diverters are flaps installed on power lines.

They work as reflectors for bird species like the GIB.

  • Birds can spot them from a distance of about 50 metres and change their path of flight to avoid collision with power lines.
  • The firefly detectors have been installed along two stretches of approximately 6.5 km, selected between Chacha to Dholiya villages in the Pokhran tehsil after ground surveys.
  • A total of 1,813 firefly bird diverters are being installed on this stretch .
  • The diverters are called fireflies because they look like fireflies from a distance, shining on power lines in the night.


  • As its name suggests it is found in India, and is the largest bird within this range; with males standing at well over a metre in height.
  • In the breeding season between March and September, males take part in territorial fights, involving strutting next to each other, and leaping against each other with the aim to land on the opponents head with their neck.
  • Periodically males also produce a booming call that can be heard for almost 500m.


  • Found scattered throughout the Indian states of Rajasthan, Gurjarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.


  • They inhabit dry and semi-dry grasslands with dispersed bushes and patches of scrub.
  • Breeding tends to occur in undisturbed or less degraded grassland sites.

Bustards come together to breed in groups during the monsoon season.

  • Nests are found on the ground, with clutches being laid once a year and typically consisting of only one egg.
  • They are omnivores, feeding on insects, grass seeds, berries, rodents and reptiles.


  • They were formerly found across the Indian Subcontinent, but they are now locally extinct in 90% of its original range.
  • Hunting is still a major issue in some parts of its range.

Today the small population of <300 is threatened primarily by habitat degradation and loss.

  • This is driven by agricultural and infrastructure expansion, mining, and also poor habitat management.
  • Only with focused and immediate conservation action can this critically endangered species begin to recover.
  • The great Indian Bustard is one of the heaviest flying birds on the planet
  • Therefore, when they encounter these wires, they are unable to change the direction of their flight.
  • Death in most cases is due to impact with the wires and not due to electrocution.

Great Indian Bustards : Firefly Bird Diverter | UPSC


  1. Intensive Patrolling by the field staff
  2. Developing intelligence network in the area.
  3. Making of check posts and barriers at strategic locations
  4. Creation of a flying squad headed by not below the rank of a range officer.
  5. Strengthening of existing Wireless Network
  6. Habitat protection through creation of some inviolate areas for the bird by making some closures of appropriate size and restricting anthropogenic pressures
  7. Habitat enrichment through planting grasses like Lasiurus sindicus(sewan grass)and providing water facilities like water gazellers.
  8. Incentives to farmers and local people for giving information and protection of the species.
  9. Involving local people in the eco-development and eco-tourism activities.
  10. Generating mass awareness and sensitization among the masses.
  11. Continuous monitoring of the species and habitat.


Great Indian Bustards IUCN

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • Great Indian Bustard, is often considered as indicators of the health of our grasslands or pulse of grassland ecosystem which are unfortunately remained neglected and being considered as wastelands.
  • These grasslands actually play an important role in the economy of the local communities as they support their livestock in terms of grazing.

Roughly 15-20 percent of the livestock population of the world resides in India and one can imagine the dependence of them on the grasslands.

  • So there is direct dependence of a major part of human population on these dwindling grasslands of India.
  • Once more than 1000 individuals few decades back, bustard population shrunk to 745 in the year 1978, 600 in 2001, 300 in 2008 and not more than 125 in the year, 2013.
     SOURCES:  DownToEarth  | Great Indian Bustards : Firefly Bird Diverter | UPSC



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