Lesser Florican Conservation Programme
Community led conservation of Lesser Florican and its habitat through a combination of economic incentives, environmental education and designed communication
The Lesser Florican (Sypheotides indica) is a globally threatened bird species. BirdLife International estimates that there are less than 2,500 individuals worldwide.
It is classified as endangered (EN) in the Asian Red Data Book and protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act (1972) of India.
The Sailana Kharmor Sanctuary was declared a protected area in June 1983 to safeguard the Lesser Florican. Also identified as an Internationally Important Bird Area; it comprises of grassland, crop fields and grazing lands and is bound by three villages. The whole area is owned by agriculturists.
Since 2008, a small group of conservationists and naturalists have been working along with the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department to conserve the Lesser Florican by conserving the grassland that is used as breeding habitat. The unique aspect of this project is that it uses community participation in preserving the habitat. The community participation is via a reward programme maintained by the Forest Department and through series of targeted communication modules like films and music videos and through environmental education of the children.
This model of incentives through reward programme, 'pride campaign' by focusing on this unique species, environmental education for primary and secondary students of the villages around the habitat and focused conservation communication through films, music videos, posters, books etc for the community at large has increased awareness and responsibility towards protecting the Lesser Florican. This has resulted in close to 300% increase in the birds arriving at Sailana during the monsoon season.
Male Lesser Florican during mating display
Sailana Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh
The team consisting of Supriya Jhunjhunwala, Anirban Dutta Gupta and Gargi Deshmukh have received the Conservation Leadership Programme Award twice which has helped in sustaining this project. Conservation Leadership Programme is funding based Award given to unique conservation projects worldwide. The Conservation Leadership Programme is a conglomeration of 4 leading conservation organisations: Conservation International (USA), Wildlife Conservation Society (USA), Fauna and Flora International (UK) and Birdlife International (UK) along with British Petroleum as the corporate sponsor.
The innovative approach, unique communication products and dedication of the team has led to the success of this project. This project has reached out to more than 10000 children and a vast number of community members. It has created a sense of pride amongst the local community who has started to conserve the grassland. This has led to a threefold increase in the number of Lesser Florican spotted at Sailana Site. In contrast the number has decreased in the control site at Dhar.