1 Tahrcountry Musings: A blog post inspired by efforts to conserve Vultures in Wayand Wildlife Sanctuary

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A blog post inspired by efforts to conserve Vultures in Wayand Wildlife Sanctuary

Under the dynamic leadership of Chief Conservator of Forests Shri Pramod Krishnan IFS, an intensive recovery programme for vultures has been started in Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala. Awareness programmes, continuous monitoring of the birds and year-round protection to the nests are ensured under this dispensation. 25 indigenous tribal watchers have been selected for monitoring the birds .51 infrared cameras are also in place. Wayand is the only place in Kerala with a breeding population of Gyp vultures which are critically endangered, Indian White-backed Vulture (Gyps Bengalensis) and a Red-headed Vulture (Sarcogyps calvus) 
In the early 1990s, the Gyps vultures of India were among the most abundant large raptors in the country. Within a decade, the populations of three species, White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis, Indian Vulture G. indicus, and Slender-billed Vulture G. tenuirostris, took a nose dive. All three are considered Critically Endangered. 
The main villain responsible for the decline of vultures is the veterinary drug diclofenac used to treat inflammation in livestock. When the birds eat carcasses of animals treated with the drugs, they experience acute kidney failure and die within days. Even very low rates of diclofenac contamination—between 1:130 and 1:760—are sufficient to trigger population crash (Green et al. 2004).Use of diclofenac is prohibited for veterinary  use now. This ban has made a remarkable change in the recovery of vultures. Diclofenac is still available for human use, but the Indian Government has recently stipulated that it should be marketed in small vials for single use only
Vultures provide a crucial ecosystem service through the disposal of livestock carcasses .Without vultures, hundreds of thousands of animal carcasses have been left to rot in the open. Livestock carcasses provide a potential breeding ground for numerous infectious diseases, including anthrax. It also brings in its wake a proliferation of pest species, such as rats. Feral dogs have proliferated the bites of which is the most common cause of human rabies. The researchers believe that the increased number of rabies victims may have cost the Indian economy close to $34 billion.
In Peru vultures equipped with GPS and camera have been put to use to track trash dumps. Most trash in Lima, Peru—a city of 10 million people—ends up in illegal dumps. The birds are better at finding the trash than people. Researchers affirm that vultures are better than drones. Drones can't sense trash—vultures can
Vultures are not a popular birds but the campaign in Peru had the unintended effect of helping the reputation of vultures. Now people in Lima like the bird for what they do, locating trash. Social media is abuzz with likes for what the vultures do for the environment

Here's footage from Basan, one of the vultures involved in the programme in Lima.

1 comment:

Mohan Alembath said...

In Africa vultures are silent victims of poaching. Vultures are deliberately poisoned by poachers, to stop them from circling the carcasses of poached animals. The poachers fear the circling vultures will alert the authorities. In a study it was found that between 2012 and 2014, 155 elephants and 2 044 vultures were killed in 11 poaching-related incidents in seven African countries. Vultures breed slowly, rearing only one chick per year or in some species one chick every two years. Africa is home to 11 of the 23 species of vulture worldwide. Four species of African vultures have been categorized as Critically Endangered, and two as Endangered.