At least 37 vultures belonging to three endangered species died in eastern Assam’s Sivasagar district on Friday evening after feeding on pesticide-laced cattle carcass.
Forest officials and a wildlife rescue team from the Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre (VCBC) rescued an equal number of vultures in a critical condition.
The incident happened at Bam Rajabari village, where 20 vultures died of carcass-poisoning in April last year.
“Most of the 37 vultures that died are Himalayan griffon. A few are oriental white-backed and slender-billed vultures. Thankfully, our team was able to rescue 37 more, but we are not sure how much the poison has taken effect,” Sachin Ranade, who heads the VCBC centre near Guwahati, said.
Raunaq Ghosh, a biologist with the centre, said, “They need treatment and observation at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation at Kaziranga for at least 10 days. ”
“It was a clear case of poisoning the carcass of a cow by the villagers, meant to kill feral dogs. But, as is often the case, the vultures died. We are trying to find out who was responsible in order to take necessary action,” Podmeswar Gogoi, deputy ranger of Sivasagar, said.
“It is unfortunate that such things happen despite awareness campaigns being carried out,” Mr. Gogoi said.
A study by the Bombay Natural History Society and other organisations in the 1990s found that the population of the Gyps group — Himalayan griffon, white-backed and slender-billed are among its members — in India and Nepal declined from about 40 million by 99.9% in just two decades.