The dramatic decline of vultures remains one of the poignant stories of wildlife conservation in India. The primary reason was a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory veterinary drug (NSAID), diclofenac. Being a pervasive drug, diclofenac would remain in cattle even after their death and be indirectly consumed by vultures, which then suffer fatal consequences. Consumption of diclofenac caused gout and kidney failure in three species of Gyps vultures; White-rumped (Gyps bengalensis), Long-billed (Gyps indicus), and Slender-billed (Gyps tenuirostris… Read More
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
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
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
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
Population of three Gyps vultures — white-backed, long-billed vulture and slender-billed — in South Asia decreased by about 90% in the 1990s due to contamination of their carrion food supply with the anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac. Since 2006, the use of diclofenac has been banned in India. The IUCN Red Data Book has listed these vultures as ‘critically endangered’. Despite the ban, there is still some unauthorised (and illegal) veterinary misuse of diclofenac using multi-use vials meant for human consumption.
Shockingly, … Read More
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
Recent pilot surveys by our team indicated a significant lack of awareness as well as rampant malpractice among stakeholders with respect to the veterinary use of (banned) diclofenac in Pune district, Maharashtra. Typical issues reported were :
- Lack of knowledge on the ban on veterinary use of diclofenac.
- Unrestricted over the counter sale of diclofenac for veterinary use.
- Easy access to human formulations of diclofenac for veterinary use.
These issues were raised with senior forest officers. In response to the … Read More
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
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
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
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
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
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