As many as seven vultures were found on a steep cliff in the Bejjur area by forest officials

Is it a calculated move on the part of the Forest Department or is it sheer lethargy as no conservation effort has been initiated to protect the colony of critically endangered vultures discovered three months ago in Bejjur mandal of Adilabad district?

At least a study on various aspects related to the scavengers birds in their pristine habitat should have been initiated by now, opine conservationists who spoke to The Hindu in connection with the International Vulture Awareness Day being observed on Saturday.

As many as seven Indian vultures or the long billed vultures (Gyps indicus) and a sub species, the slender-billed vultures (Gyps tenuisrostris), were found in their habitat on a steep cliff in the Murliguda forests by a team of forest officials. The 200 metre-long at the base and over 100 metre-high cliff called the Pala Rapu, located on the bank of the Peddavagu, evidently offers a perfect setting for planning any conservation effort.

“The conservation initiative however, should be supported by a proper study with regard to their habitat, its status, availability of food for the vultures, the population and health of the birds,” opines Bejjur Forest Range Officer K. Ram Mohan Rao who had a led a team of his staff while discovering the glorious habitat. “Yes, conservation effort like a vulture restaurent could have a telling effect on the instinct of these scavenger birds,” warns Imran Siddiqui of the Hyderabad Tiger Conservation Society, who has worked in the district for long now.

A conservation plan which was drawn up by forest officials includes establishment of a base camp with at least four bird trackers at the habitat which is located close to Nandigam village on one side of Peddavagu river and Motlaguda village on the other side. This would ensure proper protection and help in carrying out the needed study, according to the officials.

Meanwhile, the Bejjur Forest Range has planned to conduct an awareness programme on vultures and their role in environment aimed at the student community. “There is practically no awareness on the subject among students which calls for such an effort,” Mr. Ram Mohan Rao reasoned.

According to experts, the population of vultures dwindled after veterinarians started using the pain killer diclofenac. “Vultures consumed the residual diclofenac in animal carcass which badly affects their kidneys,” pointed out Surekha Aithabathula, member of the AP Birdwatchers Society, Hyderabad.