Saving Vultures

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Once the most common large raptor in the subcontinent, the white-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis) has undergone a 99.7% decline over its home range. One of four vultures listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of threatened species, this vulture is now regionally extinct in China, Myanmar, and Bangladesh.

The decline of this species in India was first noticed in Keoladeo National Park, and a country-wide population decline was noted between 2000-2007.

The widespread decline of vultures across South … Read More

Nepal Vulture Release Shows Removing Diclofenac is Key to Success

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First release of captive-bred* vultures in Asia.

Nepal and Asia witnessed a further landmark for vulture conservation on 17th September 2018, when the Government of Nepal and national and international conservation organisations released 12 critically endangered White-rumped vultures (Gyps bengalensis), including the first eight birds actually hatched within the conservation breeding programme. Releases last year of birds reared (but not hatched) in the programme have so far shown very promising signs of survival and success, and in addition, … Read More

Rare Cinereous Vulture Sighted in Nagarahole Tiger Reserve

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I observed three Cinereous Vultures (Aegypius monachus) in the Kabini backwaters area of the Nagarahole Tiger Reserve in December 2016. They were feeding on a kill alongside Long-billed Vultures and Red-headed (King) vultures.

This is just the fourth sighting of the species in South India though it is not an uncommon bird in North and Northwest India as well as the Himalayas. Just a few weeks ago an individual was seen flying over Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu, in February … Read More

Asian Vulture Crisis – It’s Not Over Yet

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The widespread use in cattle of the painkiller and anti-inflammatory drug, diclofenac, led to the unprecedented and dramatic disappearance of vultures over the past 20 years. This inadvertently poisoned around 40 million vultures, causing populations to plummet across South Asia. It’s tempting to think that with the government bans now in place for over ten years, the job is done. While there are indeed some early indications that the remnant vulture populations may be stabilising, albeit at very low … Read More

Bearded Vulture or Lammergeier, Jammu & Kashmir

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The Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) is also known as the lammergeier. It is classified as Near threatened in the IUCN Red list. It is distributed along the high mountain ranges of Europe, Africa, Caucasus, the Indian Subcontinent and Tibet, naturally occurring at low densities all across its range. It is monogamous and breeds once a year, laying two eggs.

Unlike most vultures, lammergeiers do not have a bald head. This is primarily due to the fact that they feed almost … Read More

International Vulture Awareness Day — Venkatappa Art Gallery, Bengaluru, September 3, 2016

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Save Tiger First presents International vulture awareness day.

Programme:

  1. Welcome and introduction
  2. SAVE Presentation – National and International updates
  3. Update on Ramanagara Vulture Project
  4. Panel Discussion: “Vultures on the Edge”: 
    • Mr. Chris Bowden, Globally Threatended Species Officer & SAVE Programme Manager
    • Dr. Devendra Swarup, Director IVRI (Retd.) & NSAIDS & Veterinary Expert
    • Dr. S M Byregowda, Director, Institute of Animal Health & Veterinary Biologicals (IAH&VB)
    • Q & A, Wrap-up & Vote of Thanks

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Mating Indian Vultures, Ramadevarabetta

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In early February​ 2016​, a few of us from Bangalore went to the Ramanagara rocks to see Shaheen Falcons (Falco peregrinus peregrinator). On our way back, we stopped over at the Ramadevarabetta Vulture Sanctuary. We reached the sanctuary around 11 am and spent 1.5 hours there observing the resident vultures. We saw five Long-billed or Indian Vultures (Gyps indicus) and a lone Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus).

There were two courting pairs of Indian Vultures, and we saw both … Read More

Dead Long-billed Vulture in Windmill Site, Western Ghats

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A large number of windfarms have been constructed across the Western Ghats landscapes. Many of these fall in area rich in biological diversity with many endemic and threatened species. So far they do not require any EIA and hence analysis of impacts on biodiversity is never measured. Although the serious concerns are the actual birdhits, the changes brought about in the entire landscape during construction and working phases are also heavily impacting these sensitive landscapes. This picture was taken in … Read More

Dead Indian Vulture at Ramanagara, Karnataka

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Ramnagara (or Ramadevarabetta) Vulture Sanctuary, with an area of 346.14 hectares, was declared as a Vulture Sanctuary on January 31, 2012. It has received attention from Bangalore’s ‘wildlifers’ and consequently, there have been a few interesting articles published about this area in the media. However, the story I am about to relate is not a pretty one and exposes the potential deficiencies in vulture conservation strategy.

While birding at Ramanagara on 14th June 2015, Vishnupriya and I scanned the cliffs … Read More

Egyptian Vulture Feeding From a Human Skull, Ken River, Uttar Pradesh

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An Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) feeding on soft tissue from a human skull on the Ken River (near Banda, Uttar Pradesh), December 2013.

River banks across much of north India are used to cremate or immerse the dead, and it is not uncommon to see partly burnt and unburnt corpses along these rivers. Many such remains are eventually consumed by a host of wildlife including vultures, jackals, fish, turtles and crocodiles, wherever they occur, and in the process these corpses … Read More

Miscreants Caught Trying to Poison Vultures

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On a recent visit to Ramadevarabetta Vulture Sanctuary along with my friends Hrishikesh and Preetham, we came across a group of miscreants who were caught red-handed while trying to poison vultures at the sanctuary. Five of them were caught by the local Iruliga tribe while they were trying to poison vultures using chicken meat. An insecticide called PHORATE was applied to the chicken meat and dispersed near the vultures nests. The motive behind hunting these vulture was not clear. However, … Read More

Q: How long does Diclofenac remain toxic to vultures in the body of a cow?

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Answer from Chris Bowden, International Species Recovery Officer & Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction (SAVE) Programme Manager:

Unfortunately, diclofenac remains potent to vultures for as long as it is in the tissues. A treated cow has very high levels of diclofenac in its tissues (especially in kidneys, liver, visceral organs as well as muscle tissues) for at least 3 days after treatment, after which it gradually reduces so that a week after treatment it is probably at safe levels … Read More

Dog chasing Griffon Vulture

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I shot this photograph at Jorbeer, Bikaner. There is a dump-yard where carcasses (cattle, camels, etc) from all over the city are dumped. During winter, a large number of Eurasian Griffons (Gyps fulvus) gather here. Even last year, over a 1000 Griffons congregated here. They are also joined by Himalayan Griffons and Cinereous vultures, in smaller numbers. I counted about 30 cinereous vultures there this weekend. That apart, this place also attracts a very large number of Steppe … Read More

Long-billed Vultures Mating, Ramanagaram

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We were lucky to witness the courtship of Long-billed Vultures (Gyps indicus) in Ramanagaram (Ramadevarabetta) in January this year (2013). The process of both courtship and mating went on for a few minutes and they started the entire process again. We left the critically endangered vultures with their privacy and with a silent prayer that their brood grows!

It will be recalled that in response to a hard fought conservation battle, the government of Karnataka notified Ramadevarabetta as … Read More

White-rumped Vulture Release, Ahmedabad

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Jivdaya Charitable Trust is an NGO dedicated to treating stray animals and birds free of charge. Set up in Ahmedabad in 2007, the Trust has come a long way and is now equipped with the latest treatment facilities, from gas anesthesia machines, latest orthopedic instruments, an X-ray unit, a ventilator, a multipara monitor with a pulse oximeter and also 2 state-of-the-art operation theatres. The Trust also has three fully equipped ambulance vans that treat animals on the spot. The Trust … Read More

Egyptian Vulture in Tirunelveli

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I was photographing Indian Coursers near my hometown around Koonthankulam Bird Sanctuary (Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu). Thanks to the hot sun, there was poor bird activity and I decided to return home. Suddenly I saw a dark shape at a distance. It was feeding on the carcass of a cow. On closer observation I confirmed it to be a vulture. There were two of them and they finished their meal in about 10 minutes and then flew away. Later I … Read More

Public Lecture: The Magnificent Vulture – End of the Road? — New Delhi, 20th March 2013

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Toxics Link and India International Centre cordially invite you to a discussion on “The Magnificent Vulture – End of the Road?”.

Eminent speaker: Dr. Vibhu Prakash – Principal Scientist, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).

Session Moderator: Ravi Agarwal – Director, Toxics Link.

RSVP: Rambha Tripathy, H-2, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi – 110014, Phone: +91-11- 24320711, 24328006

Email: rambha@toxicslink.org

Organised by: Toxics LinkRead More

Egyptian Vultures near Hassan, Karnataka

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I spotted a group of over 25 Egyptian Vultures on 12th January 2013, near Hassan, Karnataka. A research paper by scientists from the Bombay Natural History Society (BHNS) shows that the number of vultures in the country increased marginally between 2011 and 2012. While it is heartening to hear of the stabilization, vulture populations are hardly out of the woods, until Diclofenac, the killer veterinary drug that wiped out vultures, is truly eliminated. Its use continues despite a ban. As … Read More

Unusual Bedfellows: Long-billed Vulture and Tiger!

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It was a peak summer morning in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in May 2009 and the resident tigress and two of her female cubs were cooling off in the water at the Rajbehra Dam. Suddenly, one of the tigresses noticed something on a rock at the corner and both the sisters went off to investigate. They reappeared shortly, following a juvenile long-billed vulture, which seemed to have lost its way from its nest and incapacitated in some way. Threatened by the … Read More

Declaration of a Vulture Sanctuary in Karnataka

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In 2005 a project was proposed for carving out a 217m tall Buddha statue out of a huge 270 m monolith of Handigundi that faces the Mysore – Bangalore road close to Ramanagaram in Karnataka. Many concerned nature lovers strongly opposed this proposal. They argued that it would not just desecrate a hillock and hill range of great antiquity, but also cause irreparable damage to a habitat that was home to a large number of birds, sloth bears and leopards.… Read More

The Official Ramadevarabetta Vulture Sanctuary Notification

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Here is the official Notification, declaring Ramadevarabetta as a Vulture Sanctuary (courtesy @bngbirds).

**********
Government of Karnataka No. F.E.E.234.S.W.L. 2009, dated January 31, 2012

NOTIFICATION

Whereas the Govt. of Karnataka in excise of the powers confered under Section 26A of the Wildlife Protection) Act. 1972 (Ammended in 2003) (Central Act 53 of 1972) has considered the area, situation and limits which are specified in the Schedule notification of the Government of His Highness Maharaja of Mysore State, Notrification No. R-2992-FT-61-17-4 … Read More

Cinereous Vulture Rescue By Forest Department in Melghat

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This cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus) was found on the first day of a line transect survey, on Feb 10th, 2012 at around 8:30 AM in the Suklihenda Valley in Dhakna Wildlife Range, under Melghat Tiger Reserve. It almost fell to the ground from what appeared to be illness or hunger. We quickly rescued it from predators and took the vulture to our range headquarters at Dhakna. It was treated here by Dr. Swapnil Sonone of Youth for Nature Conservation … Read More

Effective or Not? Has the Ban on Diclofenac to Save India’s Vultures Worked?

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The results of a study published in 2011, five years after the ban in 2006, says yes, there has been a perceptible change in the use of diclofenac for veterinary use. But there is much more work to be done for the ban to be a success and for the country to see a rise in vulture populations.

The Indian subcontinent lost 95 per cent of its vultures in just 15 years. Of the eight species of vultures found in … Read More

Long-billed Vulture Chick, Ramanagara, Karnataka

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The welcome sight of a Long-billed Vulture chick on the crags of Ramanagara signal some hope for the augmentation of the very low population of this bird in the south of India. As of now, the number of Vultures at this location seem to have dwindled from thirteen, a year or two earlier, to only nine or ten. The painkiller chemical, Diclofenac, which is still not banned for human use, has decimated the population of Long-billed Vultures across the Indian … Read More

Diclofenac Ban Helps Vulture Populations

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The diclofenac ban of 2006 by the Govt. of India has helped arrest the decline in the population of vultures. This was the conclusion of a study by scientists representing the Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB), the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge. The study was presented to a gathering of scientists at the International Conference on Indian Ornithology, held at the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), … Read More