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Lesser Florican Sypheotides indicus
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This species qualifies as Endangered because its very small and rapidly declining population is predicted to undergo a very rapid decline in the near future as pressure on remaining grasslands intensifies, and areas of its habitat are lost and degraded.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Taxonomic note
Gender agreement of species name follows David and Gosselin (2002b).

Eupodotis indica Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), Sypheotides indica Collar et al. (1994), Sypheotides indica BirdLife International (2000), Sypheotides indica BirdLife International (2004), Sypheotides indica Collar and Andrew (1988)

46-51 cm. Small, slender bustard with longish bill and legs. Male has spatulate-tipped head plumes, black head, neck and underparts. White collar across upper mantle, white wing-coverts. Female and immature are sandy or cinamon-buff. Similar spp. Bengal Florican Houbaropsis bengalensis is larger and shorter-necked, with no head plumes and no white collar. Voice Frog-like croaks during display and short whistle when flushed. Hints Search grasslands in July-September when displaying males are conspicuous.

Distribution and population
Sypheotides indicus breeds in India in Gujarat, south-east Rajasthan, north-west Maharashtra (25-30 breeding pairs in Akola District [P. Patil in litt. 2012]) and western Madhya Pradesh, with some dispersal to south-east India in the non-breeding season. It is a rare summer visitor to the terai of Nepal, and was formerly recorded more frequently, but may have only been an non-breeding visitor, dependent on monsoon rains (C. Inskipp and H. S. Baral in litt. 2012). Formerly widespread and common, it has been declining since at least the 1870s. From 1982-1989, its population declined by nearly 60% (4,374-1,672 birds). However, by 1994, it had increased by 32% to 2,206 birds. These population fluctuations are directly correlated with breeding season rainfall patterns, indicating that it is susceptible to extinction in the event of severe, prolonged drought. A survey conducted in August 2010 (coinciding with a peak in male displays) in north-western India (Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh) (Bhardwaj et al. 2011), which followed methodology similar to that of a survey in 1999 (Sankaran 2000), recorded a decline of 65% in the sightings of S. indicus since 1999. A total of 84 birds (including one female) were recorded during the 2010 survey, down from 238 in 1999. The species was recorded in only 24 of the 91 grasslands surveyed, compared to its presence in 37 grasslands in 1999 (Bhardwaj et al. 2011). However, it has been indicated that the methodology of the 2010 surveys may not be comparable with that of the 1999 surveys (S. Dutta and Y. Jhala in litt. 2012). It is also possible that the 2010 survey results were affected by severe drought conditions that occurred in many parts of India in 2009, when the monsoon rains were delayed, and it is unclear whether the 2010 data indicate a genuine reduction in the population, or movement to other areas.

Population justification
The species's population was estimated at c.2,200 birds in the mid-1990s (Sankaran 1994b, 1995c), and based on this the number of mature individuals is put at c.1,500.

Trend justification
The species is suspected to be declining rapidly owing to the on-going loss and conversion of grassland habitats. The rate of decline is expected to become very rapid over the next three generations.

It occurs in productive dry grasslands, in lowland areas (below 250 m), particularly dominated by Sehima nervosum and Chrysopogon fulvus, with scattered bushes and scrub. It has also been recorded in cotton and millet crops. Non-breeding season movements are poorly understood.

Severe hunting pressure, particularly of males for sport and also food, precipitated its decline. More recently, declines have been caused by rapid reductions in the area of grassland owing to conversion to agriculture and overgrazing. In addition, the rapid spread of the non-native Prosopis glandulosa threatens habitat quality. Over the last two decades, unreliable monsoon rains have caused significant population fluctuations. In Nepal, the species suffers from disturbance and insufficient protection resulting in overgrazing and subsequent grassland degradation (C. Inskipp and H. S. Baral in litt. 2012). It is also seriously threatened by inappropriate management, such as ploughing in protected areas, leading to a loss of suitable habitat. Pressure on lowland grasslands in Nepal continues to increase. In addition, the invasive plant Mikania micrantha has had serious impacts on Chitwan National Park and Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve. The species also continues to be threatened by hunting in Nepal (C. Inskipp and H. S. Baral in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. In 1983, Rajasthan declared a ban on hunting this species, effective for 10 years, and local people were employed in a scheme to prevent hunting in Madhya Pradesh. In Nepal, the species is protected at the national level (C. Inskipp and H. S. Baral in litt. 2012). In 1994, a conservation strategy was published, which proposed management recommendations for fodder-producing grasslands and increased protection for natural grasslands. In 1996, several sites in Rajasthan were identified for intensive conservation action. Two Lesser Florican sanctuaries exist: Sailana and Sardarpur, both in Madhya Pradesh (Rahmani 2006). The species occurs in a number of other protected areas. In Maharashtra, a local NGO, Samvedana, has worked to involve local poachers in conservation actions for the protection of the species and its habitats (P. Patil in litt. 2012).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor population size and trends. Map and delimit remaining grassland habitats supporting populations for establishment as protected areas with sustainable grassland management regimes (Sankaran 2006). Implement proposals to ensure sustainable use of a network of fodder-producing grasslands (Sankaran 2006, Anon. 2009, P. Patil in litt. 2012). Promote local participation in grassland restoration and continue to employ local people as guardians of floricans and their habitats. Implement 'Project Bustards', the conservation strategy for Indian bustards. Work with local communities to develop and implement favourable grassland management practices, such delayed grass-cutting or leaving areas uncut (P. Patil in litt. 2012).

Anon. 2009. Identification and mapping of Lesser Florican breeding sites to develop a fodder producing grassland network in western India. Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History Annual Report 2007-2008: 17-18.

Bhardwaj, G. S.; Sivakumar, K.; Jhala, Y. V. 2011. Status, distribution and conservation perspectives of Lesser Florican in the North-Western India: A Survey Report. Wildlife Institute of India.

BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Rahmani, A. R. 2006. Need to start Project Bustards.

Sankaran, R. 1994. Background paper for Workshop on conservation of the Lesser Florican, 2 and 3 December 1994. Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Unknown.

Sankaran, R. 1994. Status of the Lesser Florican in 1994. Coimbatore: SACON.

Sankaran, R. 1995. The status and conservation of the Lesser Florican. In: Vijayan, L. (ed.), Avian conservation in India, pp. 22-24. Sacon, Coimbatore.

Sankaran, R. 2006. Identification and mapping of Lesser Florican breeding sites to develop a fodder producing grassland network in western India. Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History Annual Report 2005-2006: 21-22.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Davidson, P., Peet, N., Taylor, J., Tobias, J.

Baral, H., Dutta, S., Inskipp, C., Jhala, Y., Patil, P.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Sypheotides indicus. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Lesser florican (Sypheotides indicus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Otididae (Bustards)
Species name author (Miller, 1782)
Population size 1500 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 397,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species