A colony of critically endangered species of vulture, identified as the Indian vulture or the long billed vulture (Gyps indicus) and its sub species, the slender-billed vulture (Gyps tenuisrostris), has been found inhabiting a steep cliff in the Murliguda forests in Bejjur mandal of Adilabad district.

More heartening is the fact that the habitat — 200 metres long at the base and over 100 metres high — comprising the Pala Rapu and the Peddavagu river offers a perfect setting for planning an ‘in situ’ conservation effort. Though the colony of the large birds has had its share of misfortune, those that remain can be protected through efforts at the picturesque habitat itself, according to experts.

Adilabad district was a prime habitat for the two species of vulture until their numbers started dwindling some three decades back. The other place where news of the visit of the scavengers surfaces periodically is Markaguda village, located in a steep valley in Sirpur (U) mandal.

The place, located close to Nandigam village on one side of the river and Motlaguda village on the other side, can be accessed from Penchikalpet, which is about 38 km from Kagaznagar town.

The spot was discovered a few days ago by Bejjur Forest Range Officer (FRO) M. Ram Mohan Rao and his team. “I came here out of curiosity as the villagers used to talk of huge birds called Raga Panthalu,” said Mr. Rao.

“I had a hunch that Raga Panthalu was the Rabandulu . I realised I was correct when I reached the base of the cliff,” he added as he pointed towards the large crevices in the rocks which are nesting places of vultures.

Pollution kills birds

This reporter, who was part of the team led by the FRO to visit the habitat on Wednesday, spotted seven vultures in a span of two hours starting from 7 a.m. “There were quite a few birds until a few years back,” recalls Madapa Srinivas, Upa sarpanch of Kammarguda gram panchayat.

“Many birds died after consuming polluted water. The release of effluents by the Sirpur Paper Mills in Kagaznagar had polluted water in the area,” he said.

The scavenger birds seem to have survived owing to the availability of beef on the outskirts of Motlaguda, according to a villager.