Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Assam vultures to the rescue of Parsis

As the Parsi community in India is facing serious concern for ensuring traditional disposal of bodies of their dead due to alarming decline in vulture population, members of this highly endangered species from Assam are coming to their rescue.

The Parsis feed the mortal remains of the dead to the vultures as per their religious beliefs and the steep decrease in the vulture population (almost 99 per cent decline in the past year) has led to serious concerns among the community, with wealthy members also funding projects for vulture conservation.

Moreover, the vanishing number of these natural scavengers is also worrying the environmentalists and the International Union for Convention of Nature (IUCN) meet held at Bangkok in 2005 had entrusted the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) as the nodal agency for carrying out efforts towards saving the vultures from extinction in India.

As part of its conservation efforts, the BNHS has been translocating vultures from Assam to its two captive breeding centres in Pinjore in Haryana and Raja Bhatowa in West Bengal. A team of the BNHS, led by its Director Asad Ramani, was recently in the states eastern regions to take the vultures, a mission they had been executing with permission from the state government for the past few years.

The low use of Diclofenac in the state ensure that the vultures found here are relatively free from the effects of this drug and hence, are in high demand for captive breeding.

The large-scale use of Diclofenac in other parts of the country is a major cause of death of vultures as these scavengers eat carcasses of domesticated animals that had been administered veterinary diclofenac and are poisoned by the accumulated chemical.

Vultures are still found in good numbers in the state and the BNHS also has plans to open a captive breeding centre in the state. The vulture population has declined about 98 per cent in the last decade in the country, with its total number reduced to a few hundred from thousands.

Original article here.

11 responses to “Assam vultures to the rescue of Parsis”

  1. Mickie Sorabjee says:

    Any and every thing possibly done to revive the disappearing vultures, is welcome news. But any talk of aviary at Doongerwadi,please excuse!!!!!!!

  2. Sufi says:

    The Parsis feed the mortal remains of the dead to the vultures as per their religious beliefs.However, dead Parsi with all the chemicles from many medicines is not a natural and healthy food for the vultures. As humanitarian community, one should think about the health and survival of the vultures than thinking about the disposal by ancient means.

  3. The Parsees are more modern in outlook but when it comes to any Religious Performing Rites I am sorry to say that we are far lagging behind The Africans Safari People.
    One has to accept that as the Time changes The Religious Rites of any Religion has to under go Changes.
    In the Golden age there were many open Spaces & more vegetations were there, so it was possible to have an aviary for the breeding of Vultures.
    But Since the man & all The races have made progress in the world & now there are many high rise Buildings comming up in the vanacity of Most of the Doongerwadis there is no space for the aviary for the breeding of Vultures.
    The High Priests should understnd all this & allow the the desposal of the dead as per their wishes or allow the bodies to be despose of in the Electric crematoriums, as the Air & all the soroundings will be poluted free.
    The High presits should allow the After death Cerimonies to be performed in the Fire Temples or at any places as per the wishes of the families of the death persons.
    Hope that we parsees move ahead with the Changing Time & set an exampale for the others to follow.
    Ronnie Jal Patel ( Muscat ).

  4. phiroz says:

    Dear Ronnie,
    What is required is a meeting of minds and an organisation of like minded individuals. All Fire Temples are Registered as Charity Trusts and can be compelled to perform Religious Ceremonies even if the deceased had opted for alternate method of disposal. Doors of Charity Commissioner need to be knocked to interpret the Trust Deeds. Litigation is inevitable.The Trust Deeds of Agiaries would not have a proviso that ceremonies of only those who opt for Dakhmaneshni would be performed. Moreover, most Fire Temples sell Well Water to Water Tankers in breach of Trust Deeds. If on this issues litigation is taken recourse to, results are bound to follow. It is no use complaining with die hard rabid fanatics. Past Parsi history also shows that they understand language of Court Cases only. What is required is an umbrella organisation and monetary contribution besides willingness to devote time for the cause.

  5. Delnavaz says:

    Vultures are specialised feeders in the ecosystem with the ability to consume carcasses, within minutes, to the bone. Without vultures, these carcasses would rot and be taken over by disease – causing organisms that cause anthrax and botulism. It is essential that every effort is made to prevent the vulture from being extinct.

  6. Zerxes. says:

    Hi Delnavaz,
    Of course a year back I was not aware of Parsi Khabar but while browsing various old pages I came across your post exactly 365 days old.
    Can you enlighten us about the efforts made to bring back the Vultures in the last one year?

  7. Dorab. Unwalla says:


    At least appreciate the fact spoken by Delnavaz that “without vultures, these carcasses would rot and be taken over by disease – causing organisms that cause anthrax and botulism.”
    Now that there are NO Vultures, BPP Trustees and those who pride themselves in being labelled as Orthodox (as if that connotes a higher class of breed) should heed the cautionary signal of Delnavaz and start adopting alternatives. Right Delnavaz?

  8. Dorab.Unwalla says:

    And Delnavaz, since you seem to have scientific bent of mind at least on the subject under discussion, can you explain if pouring bovine urine on the dead bodies can prevent diseases mentioned by you.

  9. Jamshed H. Bastani says:

    Pls pardon my ignorance, there are some terms and statements on this portal I am unable to comprehend, I would be grateful if someone could make things easier for me.
    a) What is the meaning of Juddin ?
    b) What is the meaning of Darvand ?
    c) Why is it religiously wrong or unacceptable to pour/sprinkle Bovine Urine on a zoroastrian corpse ?


    One who claims to wear a tradtionalists label should know that in the past urine from bovines was never poured on corpses so why now. Can it be religious now if it was never religious earlier.

  11. Dorab Unwalla says:

    Of the three questions raised by Bastani, I believe no one on this portal is capable of answering them. The first 2 can be answered by Deoband located at D.N. Road.
    As for the last question, one, he should address it via Free Press Journal WAPIZ page to our respected Vada Dasturjees under the column “ASK YOUR DASTURJEES’