The State-level Vulture Conservation Committee (SVCC) has decided to conduct a synchronised vulture census in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka.
The census has been planned before March as the nesting season is in progress, Chief Wildlife Warden Srinivas Reddy said.
At the SVCC’s first meeting held on Wednesday, other conservation plans such as operationalising rescue centers in Tirunelveli, Tiruchi and Coimbatore; designating a Vulture Safe Zone (VSZ) around the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve; and future strategies were discussed.
“Since this was the first meeting, there were a lot of ideas that came from different members. The only concrete decision taken was about the census,” said Mr. Reddy.
Around 60 villages, 20 each in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka, have been identified as hotspots based on vultures’ feeding and nesting areas, and areas where there is a notable cattle-carnivore conflict, said S. Bharathidasan, secretary, Arulagam, a non-profit organisation working towards environmental conservation.
Mr. Bharathidasan, who is also a SVCC member, said proposals had been made for conducting animal welfare camps, sensitising people to ethical animal husbandry, providing opportunities for sales of pesticides using cow dung.
He also said that designating the VSZ would be an important step in conservation. “Vulture Safe Zone is only a concept now; it must be legalized by the government so the do’s and don’ts can be implemented,” he said.
The SVCC consists of the Director of the Department of Animal Husbandry; the Director of Drugs Control, Food Safety and Drug Administration Department; experts; and NGOs working towards vulture conservation.
Mr. Bharathidasan said steps must be taken gradually for the entire State to become a safe zone for vltures, and not just around Mudumalai. He said the Drugs Administration Department’s action against drug suppliers and manufacturers and retailers of the banned veterinary drug, diclofenac, was commendable.