Vulture conservation movement in the subcontinent is set to get a boost with Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) expecting 30 young vultures to be released from the breeding facilities and also marking of vulture safe zones at three places in India by 2014.

“Extinction of vultures is a cause of concern. Almost 40 per recent of remaining vultures are dying every year,” Dr Asad Rehmani, a senior member of National Board for Wildlife and Director of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), said in Panaji.

He said the 30 young vultures have already been bred at the facilities and they will be released in 2014-15.

MoEF has set up three vulture breeding facilities at Rani, Guwahati (Assam), Pinjore (Haryana) and Buxa (West Bengal).

“The breeding facilities had started some years back but it takes time for the reproduction amongst vultures. The projects are expensive but the real idea is that if vultures totally disappear there should be some at least in captivity which can be released,” said Rehmani, whose BNHS is managing the projects.

The MoEF intends to create vulture safe zones spanning across thousands of kilometers where these birds in the captivity would be released.

“From 2014 onwards, they would be released. The birds will be having colour banding so that they can be located once air bound,” he said.

The zone between Uttarakhand to Nepal, which spans from Corbett to Katriya Ghat, a Tarai belt, covering 30,000 sq kms, will be earmarked as ‘Vulture Safe’ zone.

The species of slender-billed vulture and white-backed vulture are found in this area, which is a marshy grassland.

Similarly a belt between Dibrugarh (Assam) to North Lakhimpur (Arunachal Pradesh) will also be conserved as a vulture safe zone where slender-billed and white-backed species of vultures are found, he said.

The third zone would be in central India, covering Chhattisgarh, where white-backed and long-billed vultures are found.

Rehmani said conservationists are working with the Union Finance Ministry to ensure that diclofenac, a veterinary medicine, which is the cause of increasing extinction of the birds, is banned.

Vultures suffer from kidney failure when they eat the carcass of animal that has been administered veterinary diclofenac.

He said efforts would be made to ensure that at least use of diclofenac should be banned in the zones announced as vulture safe zones.