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Declining vulture population

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August 28, 2021

What is the issue?

With India losing more than 95% of its vulture population between 1990s and mid-2000s, the country requires urgent conservation efforts to save vultures from becoming extinct

What about the population of vultures in India?

  • There are nine recorded species of vultures in India
  • 4 critically endangered  and 1 endangered

Why is vulture population so significant?

  • Vultures clear the carcasses of dead animals (nature’s cleanup crew) playing crucial role in maintaining health of the ecosystem
  • Vultures have a highly acidic stomach that helps them kill disease-causing bacteria
  • Reduces the health hazards associated with feral dogs that consume carcasses

What is the reason for the decline in vulture population?

  • Use of the drug “Diclofenac” as a pain reliever in cattle results in kidney failure and death of vultures
  • Myths about its medicinal healing powers results in poaching
  • Quarrying and blasting of stones where vultures nest results in decline
  • Power lines are killing vultures in some areas

What efforts have been taken for their conservation?

National Efforts

  • India banned diclofenac for veterinary use in 2006
  • Action Plan for Vulture Conservation 2020-25  was released by MoEFCC
  • Vulture Conservation Breeding Programme (VCBP) was established by Central Zoo Authority and Bombay  Natural History Society (BNHS)  for captive breeding
  • Vulture Safe Zones are declared when no toxic drugs are found in undercover pharmacy and cattle carcass surveys  for two consecutive years
  • The Ministry also plans on carrying out safety testing of available Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) on vulture
  • Vulture restaurant has been established at Phansad wildlife sanctuary near Murud in Maharashtra

International Efforts

  • Saving Asia's Vultures from Extinction (SAVE) – A consortium of like-minded, regional and international organizations for conservation  of south Asia’s vultures

Nationwide vulture survey is held once in four years

 

Source: The Hindu, The Indian Express

 

Quickfacts

Vulture

  • Family - Accipitridae - members include eagles, hawks and kites
  • Type - Scavengers (consume dead organisms)
  • Average lifespan – 10 to 30 years in the wild
  • Reproduction - Slow breeders
  • Communication - Vultures don’t have a voice box. They communicate via grunts and hisses
  • Unlike other raptors, vultures have weak legs and claws

 

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