Animal Conservation

Conservation plan established after 150 vultures were spotted in Valmiki Tiger Reserve in Bihar

A vulture rescue center will be set up in the Ganauli reserve to increase the number of vultures

Vultures play an important role as natural scavengers. Photo: Mohd Imran Khan

Authorities at Bihar’s Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR) began planning for vulture conservation after 150 of the birds were sighted recently in the protected area.

VTR director Hemkant Roy said his team identified 150 vultures in different areas of the reserve in February-March. “After that, it was decided to go ahead with the conservation of the vultures,” Roy told this reporter, speaking from Bettiah in the West Champaran district.

Different species of vultures including the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), Griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus), Buffalo vulture (Gyps bengalensis) and the Himalayan Griffin (Gyps himalayensis) were among the 150 individuals spotted on the VCR, according to Roy.

About 75 to 80 vultures, the highest number, were spotted in the Ganauli Range, followed by Madanpur and others.

Roy said a proposed plan for vulture conservation had been sent to Integrated Wildlife Habitat Development (IDWH). “After IDWH approval, an official vulture conservation program will begin in all five VCR lines,” he said.

A plan of Rs 57 lakh had been drawn up for the first year of vulture conservation work, he said.

Roy said a vulture rescue center will be set up in the Ganauli Range in accordance with the conservation plan. This will help to increase the number of vultures.

In addition, the local community, living in neighboring villages, will be made aware of the conservation of vultures. A campaign will be launched through street meetings, seminars in villages and other means.

Arvind Mishra, a Bihar-based bird expert, said the presence of vultures in VTR has given new hope to environmentalists working to save them in the state. He added that the development would strengthen the government’s plan to develop a vulture-free area in the state.

“The state government has plans to create a diclofenac-free zone for the conservation of vultures in the border regions of Nepal. Vultures from the Himalayan range visit areas of Bihar bordering Nepal during winters, ”said Mishra, who is also the state coordinator of the Indian Bird Conservation Network, a network of the Bombay Natural History Society.

He said the government will need to ensure there is no use of diclofenac within 10 km of the vulture safe zone.

In February 2021, the Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change of Bihar, Neeraj Kumar Singh, asked the officials concerned to identify a site to install a vulture conservation center in the district of Supaul, near the Nepal. Such a site is now identified.

A senior department official said the government was serious about conserving vultures in the state. “A vulture safety zone is really on the agenda,” the official said.

However, vultures in Bihar are very difficult to spot today, unlike in the early 2000s. As elsewhere, vultures played a vital role in the state by consuming animal carcasses before they decomposed or decomposed. do not extinguish a smell.

But after the introduction of diclofenac as an anti-inflammatory drug for cattle, the vulture fell victim to it. Experts said the vultures died after consuming the flesh of animals to which diclofenac had been administered. This has resulted in a drastic decline in the vulture population.

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