IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Great Indian Bustard


 Context: The Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) along with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) India has come up with a unique initiative — a “firefly bird diverter” for overhead power lines in areas where Great Indian Bustard (GIB) populations are found in the wild.


  • GIB is one of the most critically threatened species in India, with less than 150 birds left in the wild.
  • GIBs are one of the heaviest flying birds in India.

  • Experts say only two districts in Rajasthan — Jaisalmer and Barmer — have a breeding GIB population in the wild.
  • The bird can also be found in very small numbers in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

  • The National Green Tribunal report in 2019, pointed out that power lines, especially high-voltage transmission lines with multiple overhead wires, are the most important current threat for GIBs in the Thar region, and are causing unsustainably high mortality in about 15% of their population.
  • 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 meters and change their path of flight to avoid collision with power lines.
  • Smaller birds can change their direction [swiftly] but for larger bird species, it is difficult because their body weight and other factors.
  • A total of 1,813 firefly bird diverters are being installed in this stretch — a model that has been endorsed by experts from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission’s (SSC) Bustard Specialist Group.
  • The diverters are called fireflies because they look like fireflies from a distance, shining on power lines in the night.
  • The selected stretch is opposite the Pokhran Field Firing Range, which offers a safe habitat to a breeding population of GIBs outside the Desert National Park Sanctuary in Jaisalmer.
  • Death is most cases is due to impact with the wires and not due to electrocution.
  • The Supreme Court of India, in a recent hearing, directed that power lines in GIB landscapes should be placed underground. The innovative firefly diverter installation could serve as an alternative means to species conservation.