Life isn’t fair for the ‘King’!

Srikanth Sarathy

Srikanth Sarathy

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

Once found in vast numbers across India, vultures have become a rarity. Reduction in animal carcasses and contamination of the ones available with Diclofenac have taken a huge toll on all species of vultures in the Indian subcontinent. 

As if going from widespread to critically endangered in a few decades (thanks to Diclofenac) wasn’t bad enough, king vultures also have to fend off competitors for their hard won meals; and sometimes the smaller, more nimble opponents take away the booty!

This particular encounter happened one morning in Ranthambhore National Park, as we waited at a spotted deer kill. The vulture flew in to polish off the remains while the tigress was away. But its chances of a peaceful breakfast were dashed by an annoying crow, who kept harassing it while it tried to eat.

When the crow finally retreated, the vulture tore off a chunk. But just as the king was about to toss it down the hatch, the crow zipped across and stole the meat from the its beak!

The vulture then warily looked around before helping himself to his next bite. It made me wonder, “What does a vulture have to do to get a peaceful meal these days?”

Here’s hoping we can find the answer to the bigger problem before it’s too late!

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