Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'
Stray dogs and rare vultures coexist uneasily at this 'food court' for scavengers in Jorbeer, Bikaner, in Rajasthan. The graver problem facing Jorbeer's raptors are deaths due to Diclofenac poisoning.
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 eagles, Tawny Eagles and Egyptian Vultures (a few thousands, one would guess).
Given that the place gets so many carcasses, and there are people involved – there are a number of stray dogs living there. The dogs also get their fair share of the carcasses, and while they are at it, try their hand at the Griffons – every now and then. The raptors have started coexisting with the dogs – albeit an uneasy coexistence. I wondered why the forest department would not get rid of all the dogs in the area, and let the birds scavenge in peace. Maybe it is because the dogs play an important role in summer, when all the vultures and Steppes have gone back. The city churns out an equal number of carcasses, summer or winter, and maybe the dogs help clean it up in summer.
The graver problem facing Jorbeer’s raptors are deaths due to Diclofenac poisoning. Reports have confirmed deaths of vultures and eagles last year and this year due to Diclofenac poisoning. Vulture experts and forest department officials have made site visits and are urgently working to make the Bikaner’s carcasses Diclofenac free — no easy task given that livestock Diclofenac is misused plus human Diclofenac is not a banned drug.
Conservation India is compiling a report on the threat Diclofenac is posing to Jorbeer’s raptors. It is imperative that this raptor hotspot be saved.
Read more about Diclofenac on CI.