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Critically-endangered Oriental white-backed vultures fly towards survival from Haryana

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    22nd Sep, 2021

Context

Eight critically endangered Oriental white-backed vultures were released into the wild for the first time in India from the Jatayu Conservation and Breeding Centre (JCBC).
 A year later, they have blended well into the untamed habitat outside the aviary, offering hope to conservationists. But the grave threats to the survival of vultures are far from over.

Background

  • Released in: October 2020
  • Location: Jatayu Conservation and Breeding Centre (JCBC) situated at the Bir Shikargah Wildlife Sanctuary in Shivalik ranges of the Himalayan foothills, Haryana’s Pinjore
  • All eight vultures were deployed with satellite tracking devices on their back, and orange-coloured wing tags on both wings to monitor them.
  • They have been bred in captivity so they will gradually adjust in the wild. 
  • Also, they have managed to join the wild flock with other vultures such as the Himalayan griffon, which is surely an encouraging sign. 

Jatayu conservation breeding centre (JCBC)

  • About Jatayu Conservation and Breeding Centre: It is the first Vulture breeding facility in Asia.
  • JCBC was established near Pinjore in 2004. Since then, the centre has successfully released its one pair of Himalayan Griffon vultures in 2016.

                    Location: Jatayu conservation breeding centre (JCBC) for vultures is situated just outside Bir Shikargah Wildlife Sanctuary in Morni hills of the Shivalik ranges around 8km from the city of Pinjore off the busy Chandigarh-Shimla highway. It is situated within BirShikargah Wildlife in the town of Pinjore of Panchkula district, Haryana.

                    Purpose: It was established for the breeding and conservation of Indian vultures and House sparrows.

                    Implementing Organizations: JCBC is run by the Forests Department, Haryana and Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) with the help of the British charity Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

                    Jatayu Conservation and Breeding Centre hosts and works towards breeding four environmentally threatened species. Their respective threatened status in the IUCN red data book is as follows–

  • Indian vulture (also known as long-billed Vultures)- Critically Endangered
  • Slender-billed vultures- Critically Endangered
  • Himalayan Vultures (also known as Himalayan griffon vultures) – Near Threatened
  • Oriental white-­backed vultures– Critically Endangered

About

About the Vulture

  • The Oriental white-backed vultures that were released in the wild are resident birds and not migratory, so they largely stay within a radius of 50-100 km of the breeding center.
  • It is an Old World vulturein the family Accipitridae, which also includes eagles, kites, buzzards and hawks.
  • It is closely related to the European Griffon Vulture,  fulvus.

Declining Vulture Population

  • Once very common, vultures are on the verge of extinction in India. 
    • The vulture population in India was estimated at 40 million once. 
  • Populations of three species of vultures — the Oriental white-backed vulture, the Long-billed vulture and the Slender-billed vulture — have declined by over 97% since the 1990s, and that of the Oriental white-backed vultures by a drastic 99.9%. 

Threats

  • Uncontrolled veterinary usage of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), including Aceclofenac, Ketoprofen and Nimesulide.
  • Illegal use of the banned drug Diclofenac, are toxic to vultures if they feed on carcasses within 72 hours of the drugs' administration to such livestock.

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