Over two months ago, an endangered White-backed Vulture was spotted in a bamboo bush in Siriyur near Masinagudi in the Nilgiris. It appeared dehydrated and the possibility of its survival looked bleak. But, on Saturday, the bird happily flew away into the sky.

Thanks to the efforts of the Forest Department and Arulagam, a Coimbatore-based vulture conservation organisation, which created an aviary for the bird and ensured its survival.

S. Bharathidasan of Arulagam said the first alert came from the Forest Department on April 5 that a 90-day-old vulture nestling was found in a bamboo bush in Siriyur . Immediately, a team went to the spot and rescued the nestling. It was kept in a temporary shed with a bamboo platform. The team then collected twigs of various trees and created a nest. Lantana and grasses were placed as inner materials in the nest.

Initially the bird was unable to feed on its own. So, volunteers from Arulagam fed the bird with tiny pieces of mutton dipped in normal saline water for a week. From the second week, the bird started feeding on its own.

A fortnight later, a permanent aviary was created using bamboo and other material.

R. Venkitachalam of Bombay Natural History Society, who earlier worked in a vulture captivity programme at Pinjore in Haryana, helped Arulagam volunteers to build the permanent aviary.

The interior structure comprised of a bamboo platform two feet above the ground, which was provided for the bird to rest. Perches were placed inside in different positions.

The top portion of the aviary was covered with volleyball net and bamboos. A water trough was provided and one of the volunteers , M. Karthik , was appointed as caretaker for the nestling.

The bird weighed 2.7 kg at the time of rescue, 3.4 kg in May and 4.1 kg on Friday, Mr. Bharathidasan said.

“The nestling was doing all body and wing exercises as in the wild. This clearly showed that the bird recovered well,” Mr. Bharathidasan said.

On Saturday, the bird was released in Siriyur at 3.30 p.m.

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