Forest officials plan refuge for vultures at Valmiki Nagar Tiger Reserve

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Aiming to protect the endangered vultures, forest officials of the Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR) in Bihar have sent a proposal to the state government for establishing a conservation centre for them on the lines of Uttarakhand’s Corbett National Park.

Bird lovers and experts have hailed the initiative.

The VTR’s Field Director H K Rai said that during a recent survey, nests of vultures were spotted which proves that they find the area suitable.

“There is no reason that we cannot increase their numbers (population) in the VTR,” he opined.

Rai said: “We have planned to attract the Himalayan griffon vulture and increasing their numbers.”

Forest department officers said that nests of vultures were spotted in Madanpur, Gonauli, Harnatand and Bhikhna Thori areas of the VTR.

The officials have demanded that vulture trackers should be deployed for regular monitoring and protection.

In the proposal, rescue equipment, medicines and construction of watch towers and water harvesting structures like a dam, waterholes and ponds were also sought.

Quoting a study, Rai said that in South Asian countries animals are given diclofenac as a painkiller. Though diclofenac relieves the pain, it is left in their tissue. If vultures feed on the carcass of such an animal, then this chemical reaches their bodies too.

Diclofenac Sodium acts as a toxin for vultures and affects their liver, leading to their deaths. This is one of the reasons for the reduced population of vultures.

Bird expert Arvind Mishra said this effort of the forest department is very encouraging. After a vulture conservation centre is set up in the VTR, the birds of the Himalayan areas will also take refuge there.

He said this area houses many species of birds.

Vultures in Bihar are seen mainly in the Tiger Reserve. Only one or two are spotted in other areas, he said.

Ninety nine per cent of the vultures in the country have become extinct, he added.

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