Vultures in India
- Vultures are large, magnificent raptors. By cleaning up carcasses and other organic waste in the environment, they provide critically important ecosystem services that also directly benefit humans.
- India has 9 vulture species in the country.
- Four of India’s vulture species are under severe threat.
- Indian Vulture (Gyps indicus)- Critically Endangered
- Indian White-rumped Vulture (Gyps bengalensis)- Critically Endangered
- Red-headed Vulture (Sarcogyps calvus)- Critically Endangered
- Slender-billed Vulture (Gyps tenuirostris)- Critically Endangered
- Other Species of Vultures found in India include Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus), Cincerous Vulture (Aegypius monachus), Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) and Himalayan Vulture (Gyps himalayansis).
- Most of their populations are declining. Their decline is associated with use of Diclofenac for cattle treatment which then ends up in their digestive system making them vulnerable to kidney failure and poisoning.
Diclofenac and vulture
- Diclofenac is a common anti-inflammatory drug administered to livestock and is used to treat the symptoms of inflammation, fevers and/or pain associated with disease or wounds. It was widely used in India beginning in the 1990s.
- But vultures which eat dead cattle are vulnerable to Diclofenac. This drug causes kidney failure in the vultures.
- Though the drug was banned in 2006, it is reportedly still available for use.
Why in the news?
- Union Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change Bhupender Yadav visited the Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centre, Pinjore.
- The Minister said that the vultures may be released in the wild after breeding. It is proposed to release Oriental white-backed Vultures during the year 2023-24 in the wild. The released birds will be monitored closely for atleast a year with satellite transmitters and will look for any behaviour problems to make sure that they adjust well to the wild conditions and there is no mortality due to diclofenac poisoning. Thereafter the birds would be released regularly in the wild every year.