In the absence of a stable population, the presence of meagre number of vultures in Moyar region and that too presence of only four of the nine species of vultures in Moyar valley is a cause for concern, pointed out a study titled ‘Preliminary Report on Status of Vultures and the availability of banned drug Diclofenac in Coimbatore, Nilgiris and Erode districts of Tamil Nadu.’
The study gains significance as September 7 is observed as International Vulture Day.
According to S. Bharathidasan of Arulagam, the study was taken up in Moyar Valley in the Nilgiris, considered the hub for vultures. Arulagam is working towards the objective of Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction (SAVE) in association with the Critical Eco-System Partnership Fund (CEPF).
Moyar comprises four forest divisions such as Nilgiris North, Nilgiris Easten slopes, Mudumalai and Sathyamangalam and these pockets support the stronghold population of vulture. Tall trees such as Terminalia, arjuna and Manginfera indica along the river banks of Moyar serve as a breeding and roosting site for vultures.
Forty eight villages and tribal settlements in around Moyar valley and villagers rear cattle for manure collection, agricultural activities and for milking purposes. These villagers resort to veterinary use of Diclofenac for ailments of their cattle.
Despite the ban imposed on veterinary use of Diclofenac (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug – NSAID), the drug is available at eleven shops in Nilgiris district; 22 in Coimbatore and 30 in Erode. The ban, which came into effect in 2006, was reiterated through a gazette notification on July 5, 2008.