Vulture Survey

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    • Recently, the vulture survey was carried out in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka.

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    • An population estimation was carried out by forest departments of respective states in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) and the adjoining landscape consisting of Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (STR) in Tamil Nadu, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) in Kerala, Bandipur Tiger Reserve (BTR) and Nagerhole Tiger Reserve (NTR) in Karnataka.
    • Based on inputs from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Vulture Specialist Group, survey was done using  vantage point count method .
    • Outcomes :
      • As many as 246 vultures  were spotted including  White-rumped vultures (183), Long-billed vultures (30), Red-headed vultures (28), Egyptian vultures (3), Himalayan Griffon (1), and Cinereous vulture (1).
    • Types of Vultures:
      • Vultures are one of the 22 species of large carrion-eating birds that live mostly  in the tropics and subtropics
        • They act as nature’s garbage collectors
        • Vultures play a valuable role in keeping wildlife diseases in check.
      •  India is home to nine species of Vulture namely the Oriental white-backed, Long-billed, Slender-billed, Himalayan, Red-headed, Egyptian, Bearded, Cinereous and the Eurasian Griffon.
    • Conservation status :
      • Bearded, Long-billed, Slender-billed, Oriental white-backed are protected in the Schedule-1 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. Rest are protected under ‘Schedule IV’.
      • According to IUCN Oriental White-backed Vulture,Long-billed Vulture ,Slender-billed Vulture and Red-headed Vulture are Critically endangered.
      • Egyptian Vulture is endangered and Eurasian Griffon is least concerned while  remaining are near threatened.
    • Threats:
      • Use of Diclofenac: A veterinary nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)  found in the carcass of cattle the vultures feed on. Vultures die from kidney failure within days of exposure to diclofenac-contaminated tissues.
        • The veterinary use of diclofenac was banned in 2008.
      • Pesticides: The presence of organochlorine pesticide, polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heavy metals were also the major  cause of mortality.
      • Lack of Nesting Trees
      • Electrocution by power lines
      • Food Dearth and Contaminated Food
    • Conservation Efforts :
      • National Board for Wildlife(NBWL) has approved an Action Plan for Vulture Conservation 2020-2025. Key highlights of the plan include,
        • Vulture Conservation Centre: Uttar Pradesh, Tripura, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu will get a vulture conservation and breeding centre.
        • Vulture Safe zone: Establishment of at least one vulture-safe zone in each state for the conservation of the remnant populations in that state.
        • Rescue Centres: Establishment of four rescue centres, in Pinjore (Haryana), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Guwahati (Assam) and Hyderabad (Telangana). There are currently no dedicated rescue centres for treating vultures.
      • Establishment of Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centres : there are nine VCB Centres in India, of which three are directly administered by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).
      •  creation of “vulture restaurants” in the state of maharashtra , where carcasses free of diclofenac are provided
      • Involvement of local villagers as ‘gidhaad mitra’ for  rejuvenation and conservation efforts.

    Source:TH