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Avifaunal changes in the Indian Thar Desert

Title:Avifaunal changes in the Indian Thar Desert
Authors:Rahmania Asad R. and Soni R. G.
Publication:Journal of Arid Environments / Elsevier Science
Enumeration:Volume 36, Issue 4 , pp. 687-703, August 1997
Abstract:The Indian Thar Desert is one of the smallest and most densely populated deserts of the world but due to its geographical location it has high avian and plant diversity. Nearly 300 bird species have been identified. A 649-km long irrigation canal, the Indira Gandhi Nahar Project (IGNP), is changing the ecology of the Thar by bringing water to arid areas. Beside the main canal, nearly 8000 km of distribution channels have been built. A massive afforestation scheme along the canal has attracted many new animal and bird species. Expansion of agriculture, overgrazing by livestock, change in cropping pattern, development of seepage wetlands and introduction of exotic plants have greatly affected desert birds such as the endangered Great Indian BustardArdoetis nigriceps, the migratory Houbara BustardChlamydotis undulataand the endemic White-browed BushchatSaxicola macrorhyncha, while some species such as Common CraneGrus grusand Demoiselle CraneGrus virgoare spreading along the canal. This paper discusses the change brought about in the birdlife of the Thar by the development of IGNP and recommends urgent conservation measures.

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