Species conservation

Based on the estimates from 2014, the global population size of the great bustard is between 44,000-57,000 individuals with a declining trend. Increasing or stable populations can be found only on the Iberian Peninsula and in Central Europe, while the remaining population fragments are crashing and disappearing across the rest of the range.

At present, the great bustard is listed as 'Vulnerable' by the global IUCN Red List. Thanks to the increase and stabilization during the past deaces within Europe, the latest revision by BirdLife International categorized the species as 'Least Concern' in European and regional red lists. As the data indicates that almost two thirds of the population lives on the Iberian Peninsula - where the trend is stable - it can be assumed that the species will shortly be placed into a more favourable category at a global scale.

Further information about the international conservation status of the great bustard can be found in the BirdLife International database.

The great bustard is now strictly protected in Hungary, with the highest possible conservation value of 1.000.000 HUF. The national level first conservation measure was the implementation of hunting restriction followed by a moratorium and then granting the species a protected status in 1970. By this time, however, the Hungarian population numbered a mere 800-900 individuals. Targeted conservation measures allowed the population to become 1,400-1,500-strong by 2010. Since then, a slight increase pushed this number to 1,600 individuals.  The increase within the Carpathian Basin is largely due to the strengthening of the population living along the Austro-Hungarian border, a consequence of subsidizing bustard-friendly agrotechnology.

The great bustard may also benefit from the international protection provided by the 1979 Bonn Convention of Migratory Species. This convention allows the initiation of Memoranda of Understanding (MoU). The one on the protection of Central European populations of the great bustard came to effect in 2001.

The first version of the action plan on the Western Palearctic population was finalized in 2010 and accepted by the Central European signatory parties in 2013. The latest version of the action plan was accepted on the 4th MoU meeting in March 2018. The species conservation plan, the mid-term (2013-2018) international work programme and further relevant documents and information can be accessed on the site https://www.cms.int/great-bustard/en/species/otis-tarda. Among many other information, the latest Hungarian interim report can also be found here.