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24th March 2022 (6 Topics)

Kamrup vulture deaths

Context

Wildlife authorities in Assam recently said they had found the carcasses of nearly 100 endangered vultures.

About

About Vultures in India:

  • Vultures are scavenging birds of prey
  • Vultures are nature's most efficient scavengers.
  • The Gyps vultures are specialized to feed on the soft tissue of the large ungulate carcasses.
  • They play a vital role in the ecosystem by cleaning up the rotten carcasses left in the open.
  • The population of Gyps vultures in the Indian subcontinent has crashed since 1990s onwards. 
  • Veterinary use of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug 'diclofenac' is the main cause attributed for this drastic population decline.
  • Government of India has banned the use of diclofenac in veterinary medicine, has initiated Vulture Breeding Programme for ex-situ conservation and also enhanced in situ protection of the remaining populations.
  • India is home to nine species of vultures, but most of them face the danger of extinction.

S. No

Category

Vulture Name

1

Critically Endangered

1. Oriental White-backed Vulture
2. Long-billed Vulture
3. Slender-billed Vulture
4. Red-headed Vulture

2

Endangered

Egyptian Vulture

3

Near Threatened

1. Himalayan Vulture
2. Cinereous Vulture
3. Bearded Vulture

4

Least Concern

Eurasian Griffon

Significance of Vultures:

  • They play a crucial role in the environments in which they live.
  • A vulture is a bird of prey that scavenges for its food, meaning that it searches the ground for animal carcasses to eat.
  • Typically, these carcasses are what are left uneaten by other predators.
  • Vultures can be our allies in mitigating the spread of disease that can otherwise infect other animals, including livestock and humans.
  • These scavengers do the dirty work of cleaning up after death, helping to keep ecosystems healthy and prevent the spread of disease.
  • Vultures have an extremely corrosive stomach acid that allows them to consume rotting animal corpses.
  • These scavenged leftovers are often infected with anthrax, botulinum toxins and rabies that would otherwise kill other animals.
  • Therefore, when vultures consume carcasses, they keep diseases in check. They are a key factor in maintaining healthy ecosystems.
  • Because of their role as nature’s garbage disposers, vultures are able to keep the environment clean and free of contagious diseases.
  • Because vultures are attracted to carrion (dead animals), they have played an indirect role in helping authorities identify illegal poaching activity.

Conservation:

  • Conservation Breeding Centre at Pinjore, Haryana: The Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre was established at Pinjore, Haryana in September 2001 by BNHS in collaboration with the Haryana Forest Department.
  • Ramadevarabetta Vulture Sanctuary: The vulture sanctuary was officially set up in 2012, but the long-billed, Egyptian and white-backed vultures have been roosting in the hills of Ramanagara for several decades. These are the three species found in Ramanagara out of the nine found in India.
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