TN to conduct census of critically endangered vultures

The Tamil Nadu forest department is planning to conduct a census of critically endangered vultures along with the third phase of synchronised bird census to be held in the state on March 26-27.

According to Tamil Nadu forest department sources, the Moyar forest areas in The Nilgiris house around 180 oriental white-backed vultures that are critically endangered species as per the red list of the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The other types of vultures like the Long-billed vultures, Red-headed vultures, and Egyptian vultures have come down to double and single digits.

S. Bharathidasan of Arulagam, who has been working for vulture conservation for the past several years while speaking to IANS said, “The vulture food supplies were contaminated with a non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory drug like diclofenac which is now banned. This has led to the decline in the vulture population not just in Tamil Nadu but across the country.”

He said that the nonavailability of carcasses and killing of birds by cattle herders through poisoning and habit degradation has also led to the dwindling vulture population in the country. Bharathidasan said that there are other veterinary drugs that lead to the killing of vultures.

The National Board for Wild Life (NBWL) has already approved a revised “Action Plan for Vulture Conservation 2020-25”. The NBWL has proposed setting up Vulture Conservation Breeding centres in important states including Tamil Nadu.

The NBWL in its action plan is to prevent the poisoning of the cattle carcasses that are the principal food of vultures, with veterinary Non- Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID). This also includes the safety testing of NSAIDs on vultures before they are commercially launched in the market.

Tamil Nadu Chief WildLife Warden, Shekar Kumar Neeraj while speaking to IANS said, “We will be coordinating with Karnataka and Kerala forest departments for this survey and I am writing to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests of Karnataka and Kerala as well for a synchronised vulture census.”

He said that in Tamil Nadu, Moyar, Sigur, and Satyamangalam are the main pockets where vulture population is found and it is very very important to protect them.

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