The bird is said to breed on cliffs on the northern face of the Nilgiris

A group of naturalists from Coimbatore have sighted a pair of nesting Long-billed vultures in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) recently. The birds were sighted nearly after 40 years, say the naturalists.

Sharing details with The Hindu, S. Bharathi Dasan of Arulagam, a non-governmental organisation involved in raptors conservation, said records actually showed that Long-billed vulture population survived only in Ram Nagaram near Bangalore in Karnataka State.

Mr. Dasan, who sighted the pair of these endangered birds, said available records about the bird in a book titled ‘Guide to the Bird Gallery’ by S.T. Sathyamurthi, which was published in 1970s, clearly stated that “Indian Long-billed vultures are somewhat rare species found all over the country, south of the Indo-Gangetic plain. In South India it is said to breed on cliffs on the northern face of the Nilgiris. It has also been recorded from the Palani hills. Its habitats are much the same as those of other species of vultures.” The book further described the bird as a good scavenger, often gathering in considerable numbers and feeding voraciously on carcass, but is rather cowardly and does not usually attack other living creatures.

The presence of this scavenger was also recorded in the Periyar Tiger Reserve, where they were found to build their nests in the cliffs, which could not be reached easily by anyone, Mr. Dasan said.

The information about the vulture breeding near a private estate kindled their interest to explore the habitat. “When we went in search of the estate worker, who informed us about the vultures, we could not find him in the place. However, we managed to find him sometime later in the estate.

The team after reaching the cliff scanned it for the birds and they saw a white-wash mark on it. Further scanning led to the sighting of the pair of long-billed vultures there. Mr. Dasan said: “The moment we saw the vultures, our tiredness and fatigue disappeared and we felt revitalised. After dark we returned from there with a sense of happiness,” he added.