Jaisalmer, Sep 16 (PTI) There has been a nearly three- fold rise in the number of the Great Indian Bustard, the state bird of Rajasthan, in Pokran range of the Desert National Park here, officials said.

Eleven ‘Godawans’, as the bird is popularly known in Thar region, were counted during a survey in 2015.

The number has increased to 31 in 2017, says Puran Singh Rathore, an official of the Pokaran forest range.

Listed as critically endangered under Schedule I (the highest protection status, Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, the Great Indian Bustard is numerically closest to extinction.

Rathore said last year six Godawans had laid eggs while this year 11 have laid eggs.

“This has happened due to consistent efforts towards their conservation,” he added.

Distinct in appearance, the bustard is large, brown-and- white with black crown and wing markings. Its males have whitish neck and underparts with narrow black breast-band, while females are smaller, with greyer neck and typically no or incomplete breast-band.

The species is critically endangered because it has a very small population that has undergone an extremely rapid decline owing to a multitude of threats including habitat loss and degradation, hunting and direct disturbance, according to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of birds.

The bustard, which has almost extirpated from all places where it was previously found, is now principally confined to the deserts of Rajasthan, says IUCN.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.