Himalayan Vultures

Context: Researchers have recorded the first instance of captive breeding of the Himalayan vulture (Gyps himalayensis) in India at the Assam State Zoo. About Vultures: 
  • Vultures are sociable creatures and are often seen as a collective unit. Out of 23 species of vultures in the world, nine are found in India.
  • Vultures are slow breeders and so the survival of every individual is very crucial.
  • Generally, vultures rely on other carnivores to open carcasses.
  • Vultures have a highly acidic stomach that helps them digest rotting carcasses and kill disease-causing bacteria.
Species of Vultures found in India and their Conservation Status:
  1. Indian Vulture or Long-billed vulture (Gyps indicus): Critically Endangered
  2. Indian White-backed Vulture (Gyps bengalensis): Critically Endangered
  3. Red-headed Vulture (Sarcogypscalvus): Critically Endangered
  4. Slender-billed Vulture (Gyps tenuirostris): Critically Endangered
  5. Egyptian Vulture (Neophronpercnopterus): Endangered
  6. Cincerous Vulture (Aegypiusmonachus): Near Threatened
  7. Bearded Vulture (Gypaetusbarbatus): Near Threatened
  8. Himalayan Vulture (Gyps himalayansis): Near Threatened
  9. Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus): Least Concern
  • CITES: Appendix II
  • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I

Image Credit: WWF

Factors responsible for decline in future population
  • Use of diclofenac: It relieves cattle of pain, but is toxic to vultures even in small doses and causes kidney failure and death.
  • Hunting: Myths about the medicinal healing powers of vultures’ body parts have led to the hunting of vultures.
  • Quarrying: Quarrying and blasting of stones where vultures nest have also caused their decline.
Conservative Steps for Vulture:
  • Captive Breeding Centres: Union government in collaboration with the forest departments and the Bombay Natural History Society has established the captive breading centre in Haryana, Assam, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal.
  • Vulture Restaurants: vulture restaurants was created in certain of Maharashtra where carcasses free of diclofenac are provided.
  • National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has approved an Action Plan for Vulture Conservation 2020-25: Key Highlights
    • Ban on Toxic Drugs: The Drugs Controller General of India will ban drugs, including diclofenac, that are used to treat cattle and known to poison vultures.
    • Vulture Safe Zone: At least one “Vulture Safe Zone” in every State for the conservation of the remnant populations
    • Establishment Vulture Conservation Breeding Centres: Vulture Conservation Breeding Centres will be set up in Uttar Pradesh, Tripura, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
News Source: The Hindu

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