25 Jun 2023

Know More About White-backed Vultures Brought From Haryana To Bhopal's Van Vihar; Can We Save These Birds From Going Extinct?

Twenty white-backed vultures from Haryana were brought to Van Vihar National Park in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh on Saturday. The vultures travelled 1100 kms and reached Van Vihar. They will be kept quarantined for 45 days. After this, the vultures will be released in Aviary of Vulture Conservation Center.

The white-rumped or white-backed vultures have been brought from the Vulture Conservation Center in Pinjore, Haryana. Of the 20 vultures, 5 are males, 5 are females and 10 are sub-adults. Vulture expert Rohan and Veterinary Dr. Rajat Kulkarni brought them to Bhopal. The birds travelled by road after keeping them in specially prepared crates.

Many species of vultures face extinction owing to the use of diclofenac in treating livestock, which caused vultures to die when they fed on contaminated carcasses. The Government of India banned its veterinary use in the country in 2006.

Vulture Breeding Centre near Kerwa dam

India's oldest wildlife conservation organization the Bombay Natural History Society or BNHS, with the help of the Government of India, State Forest Departments and Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, has scripted a success story in the conservation of Vulture species.

As a precaution against the vulture species going extinct, BNHS set-up four breeding centers across the country for these critically endangered birds including one in Bhopal.

Van Vihar in collaboration with the Bombay Natural History Society runs a Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre (VCBC) which is located at the edge of a reserve forest area near Kerwa dam in Bhopal. It is about 7 km. from Van Vihar and is 5.5 acres in area.

 The centre was established in 2014 for the breeding of two Critically Endangered Gyps species of vultures - White-backed and Long-billed vultures.

Critically endangered

The white-rumped vulture is an Old World vulture native to South and Southeast Asia. It has been listed as Critically Endangered, as the population severely declined. White-rumped vultures die of kidney failure caused by diclofenac poisoning. 

In the 1980s, the global population was estimated at several million individuals, and it was thought to be the most abundant large bird of prey in the world. As of 2021, the global population was estimated at less than 6,000 mature individuals.

It is closely related to the European griffon vulture. At one time it was believed to be closer to the white-backed vulture of Africa and was known as the Oriental white-backed vulture. Now efforts are being made to save this vulture from going extinct and the BNHS scientists and the state forest department will try to increase their numbers in Van Vihar. 

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