Vulture nests in WWS decline

Survey spots 70 individual vultures but only 11 nests

March 10, 2016 12:00 am | Updated 05:43 am IST - KALPETTA:

Vultures feeding on an elephant carcass in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary.— Photo: By special arrangement.

Vultures feeding on an elephant carcass in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary.— Photo: By special arrangement.

Even after the government has imposed curbs on the use of Diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory drug acknowledged to have caused the decimation of vultures in the Indian subcontinent, the nests of vulture population are dwindling in Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS), a safe habitat for different species of vultures in South India.

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had restricted human formulations of injectable Diclofenac to single, 3 ml dose packs last year to check its misuse for veterinary use.

A preliminary survey on vulture population organised by the Forest and Wildlife Department in four forest ranges under the WWS as a part of the newly launched vulture conservation programme has pointed to a considerable decline in the number of nests.

Though the survey recorded as many as 70 individual vultures, including 54 White-rumped vultures and 19 Red-headed vultures, it could sight only 11 nests, in three ranges of the sanctuary, P. Dhaneshkumar, Warden, WWS, told The Hindu after the survey. As many as 17 nests had been spotted during a survey last year.

While the largest number of nests was recorded at Kazhukan Kolly in Kurichyad range of forest, no nest was found in Muthanga. Also, no Long-billed vulture was spotted during the survey, he said.

However, close to 150 individual vultures of different species had been recorded in a camera trap set up in the Sulthan Bathery range of forest under the sanctuary while they were feeding on an elephant carcass nearly a month ago, said P.A. Vinayan, a conservationist who was part of the survey. “We suspect that those vultures were from the adjacent sanctuaries, and reached here for feeding,” he added. As many as 20 people, divided into four groups, took part in the survey. The methods such as transect lines and vantage point observation for vulture population were adopted for the survey.

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