After years of grit and determination, eight critically endangered white-rumped vultures, six of them captive-bred, were reintroduced into the wild
In what could be seen as a silver lining in conservation, after years of grit and determination, eight critically endangered white-rumped vultures, six of them captive-bred, were reintroduced into the wild on Thursday for the first time in India since the vulture conservation and breeding centre was set up in the lower Shivaliks near here in September 2001.
Appealing people to conserve various species of wildlife which are on the verge of extinction, Haryana Forest and Wildlife Minister Kanwar Pal Gujjar released eight white-backed vultures into wildlife environment under Asia’s First Gyps Vulture Reintroduction Programme at an event on the concluding day of Wildlife Week Celebrations organised by State Forests and Wildlife Department from October 2 to October 8 at Jatayu Conservation Breeding Centre in village Jodhpur, located on the border of the Bir Shikargaha Wildlife Sanctuary. “Platform transmitter terminals (PTT) was attached with each to track down their locations and behaviour in the wilderness, Minister added.
Gujjar said the State Government has been making consistent efforts to conserve nature and people of the State should step forward to cooperate to conserve various species of plants and wildlife which are on the verge of extinction.
Principal Chief Forest Conservation Dr Amarinder Kaur said that the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has been running the centre in collaboration with Haryana since 2004. “Eight vultures included both the genders and six out of eight are in the age group of six-seven years. Two vultures are in the age group of around 10 years. Around five years ago, a pair of Himalyan Griffon Vulture was released but without PTT. We were not able to track down their locations for a long time. This time, as PTTs have been attached with vultures, we are confident to get better understanding and results about the raptors,” she said.
She added six vultures out of eight were hatched inside the breeding centre through the artificial incubation. Two vultures were rescued and brought to the centre from Gujarat. “We believed the two vultures, which were nourished in the centre, will work as the guides for six others in the wilderness. Vultures prefer to roam in a radius of 100 km depending on the availability of food, which is primarily the carcasses of dead animals. PTT is available to track down the location of gyps throughout the South-Asian countries,” she added.
As a chief guest of the programme, the State Minister said that in November 2015, a soft release of the eight vultures was done at the same Breeding Centre in the pre-release closure. Subsequently after five years of the soft release, the same eight vultures have been released into the wildlife environment under Asia’s First Gyps Vulture Re-Introduction Programme.
Gujjar congratulated Vibhu Prakash, scientist of Bombay Natural History Society and his team, who has helped in making this Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre of Haryana one of the best centres in Asia.
Sharing his views on the creation of nature, he said that there is a scientific reason for creation of wildlife. Vultures are scavengers and they thrive on slaughtered cattle and animal bodies, hence they maintain hygiene, however, since 1990 their species have been disappearing in India, due to which they are being conserved and Conservation and Breeding Centres were opened. He said that awareness is necessary to preserve forests and wildlife for the protection of nature and environment among the people. “Van Mahotsav, Wildlife Week and Environment Day Programmes are organised every year in India and all over the world so that the need for conservation of nature can be widely publicized,” he added.
Chief Wildlife Warden Alok Verma said that the Jatayu Conservation and Breeding Centre spread across a land of 5-acres is among the best centres among the remaining eight such centres in the country and is also a guide for these centres. Apart from this, two Natural Parks – Sultanpur and Kalesar, seven Wildlife Sanctuaries, five Mini Zoos, Elephant Rehabilitation Centre in Bansantore, Crocodile Conservation Centre in Bhorasayida, Kurukshetra, where conservation and promotion programmes of wildlife are conducted.
Vibhu Prakash, gave a comprehensive presentation on the ongoing activities at this Centre.
He said the programme for the conservation of vultures was started in 2001 and research was conducted to view the factors leading to their extinction. It was concluded in the study that the use of diclofenac medicine (a painkiller administered to animals) was the reason for sudden extinction of vultures as they are scavengers and the consumption of the carcass administered with the said medicine, proved to be fatal for the vultures. He further added that there are 370 vultures at this Centre of which more than 300 birds took birth at the Centre itself.
The wildlife officer said that vultures were listed as critically endangered species by IUCN. In the 1980s, vulture population in the country was estimated to be in lakhs but by 1990s, 99 percent decline was reported in the number of these three species, including white-backed vultures.
Originally published at Daily Pioneer