Firefly Bird Diverters to Save Great Indian Bustard Bird
The Hindu
Jan 30, 2021

Firefly bird diverters have been put on overhead power lines in areas where Great Indian Bustard (GIB) (Species of Bird) are found so save them from crashes with the power lines.

The Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) along with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) India has come up with a unique initiative of putting up ‘firefly bird diverter’ on overhead power lines in areas where Great Indian Bustard (GIB) are found as it is one of the most critically threatened species in India, with less than 150 birds left in the wild.

The flaps are called fireflies because they look like fireflies from a distance, shining on power lines in the night. A report by the Ministry pointed out that power lines with high-voltage transmission lines are the most important threat for GIBs in the Thar region. Anil Kumar, team leader of the GIB project said, “Firefly bird diverters are flaps installed on power lines. 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 of their body weight. A total of 1,813 firefly bird diverters are being installed in the stretch of about 6.5 km.” 

Kapil Chandrwal, Deputy Conservator of Forest, Desert National Park Sanctuary, said that high-tension wires being a reason for GIB death. “GIBs are one of the heaviest flying birds in India. Therefore, when they encounter these wires, they are unable to change the direction of their flight. Death is due to impact with the wires and not due to electrocution. The diverter will save GIB and other species of large birds, including migratory birds.

The Supreme Court of India, in a recent hearing, directed that power lines in GIB landscapes should be placed underground. Experts said that the innovative firefly diverter installation could serve as an alternative.