The world’s first vulture breeding programme for a socio-religious purpose has been shelved. Parsis are traditionally laid to rest in Mumbai’s Tower of Silence where vultures (now endangered) devour their dead bodies. But scientists from the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) say that the breeding programme, which would have cost Rs 1 crore, would have failed because of the use of diclofenac-laced painkillers by Parsis. Diclofenac has proven deadly for vultures.
“We had been considering the project for long in order to breed enough birds for the Parsi tradition. But scientists studying the proposal shelved it saying it will not be possible since the vultures eating the dead bodies with diclofenac in them will die anyway,” says Minal Shroff, chairman of the Bombay Parsi Panchayat, which was spearheading the programme.
Jehangir Bismey of the Hyderabad-Secunderabad Parsi Panchayat says the proposal for the breeding programme was flawed from the beginning. “You can not breed vultures in captivity. It is scientifically impossible since they breed only in open and lay eggs in a pattern that cannot be achieved in captivity. The project was being considered only because of the pulls and pressures of certain lobbies in the community,” he says.
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