Tamil Nadu

Conservationists offer a blueprint to save South India’s vultures

A white-backed vulture in Moyar valley in the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu. Photo: Special arrangement

A white-backed vulture in Moyar valley in the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu. Photo: Special arrangement

The South India Vulture Conservation Group has come up with a blueprint for the conservation of vulture population in five South Indian States, which are home to six of the nine vultures species found in the country.

Strategies discussed at a meeting of experts held at the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History in Coimbatore on Wednesday included a plan for a synchronously coordinated survey in five States, need to press the governments to restrict availability of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID) for veterinary use and to create a vulture safe zone in each south Indian State.

Listed under act

“Out of nine vulture species in India, four namely — white-backed vulture, long-billed vulture, slender-billed vulture and red-headed vulture — are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN and all are in the Schedule-1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, the highest category of endangerment.

Except slender-billed vulture, the three other critically endangered species are found in the Moyar valley in the Nilgiris, whose population has seen a slight increase,” says S. Bharathidasan, chief coordinator of the group and secretary of Arulagam NGO involved in conservation of vultures.

According to B. Ramakrishnan, State coordinator of the group in Tamil Nadu, a synchronously coordinated survey is being planned in the five States to understand the distribution and population estimate of vultures.

D. Rajkumar from Karnataka said use of NSAIDs had wiped out about 90 % of vulture population and disposal of cattle waste in forest peripheries was still rampant. The group emphasised on having a strong protocol for safe carcass disposal.

Carcass disposal

It has appealed to the Forest Department that National Tiger Conservation Authority guidelines should be implemented for carcass disposal by not burying or burning it. C. Sashikumar, State coordinator from Kerala proposed creation of at least one vulture safe zone in each south Indian State so that they are not affected from threats including that of NSAIDs.

The meeting of experts was held in the backdrop of the 13th conference of the parties to the Convention of Migratory Species (CMS) held in Gandhinagar last month, to which the Government of India was a signatory.

The four critically endangered vulture species in India were given special importance and they were recognised in the Annexure 1 of the CMS framework and a multi-species action plan has been devised for all threatened vulture species.

According to Apoorva Kulkarni, ecologist and facilitator of the meeting, a blueprint for the conservation of South Indian vulture population was prepared in alignment to the CMS vulture multi-species action plan, which is designed to help the south Indian state governments for on ground policy and action implementation.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2022 3:48:09 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/conservationists-offer-a-blueprint-to-save-south-indias-vultures/article31054171.ece