Breeding revives fortunes of India’s rare vultures

Indian conservationists have successfully bred a rare species of vulture, brought near to extinction by a drug used to treat cattle but which is highly toxic to the scavenging birds.

Eighteen slender-billed vultures, the rarest of three endangered species living in India, were caught in Assam and used to start breeding programmes late last year in Haryana and West Bengal.

Since December, the captive population has soared to 78 birds with some having been bred and more caught in the wild.

They are being kept in aviaries at the two centres, where their health is monitored and the adults are fed three kilograms of freshly slaughtered goat twice a week.

Conservationists aim to rear at least 200 vultures over the next few years, and introduce them back into their original habitats once the areas are free of diclofenac, the anti-inflammatory drug responsible for their decline. India banned the drug in May.

“The ban on diclofenac might take a few years to be implemented effectively,” said Vibhu Prakash, scientist at the Bombay Natural History Society’s vulture conservation project, which is co-ordinating the breeding. “Until then, the vulture population will continue to decline at an alarming rate.”

“Bringing as many vultures into captivity as possible is the best way to save them from going extinct,” he said.

Vultures fulfill a vital role, stripping down animal carcasses that would otherwise slowly rot and attract disease-spreading feral dogs and vermin.

But populations of South Asia’s Oriental white-backed, long-billed and slender-billed vultures have plummeted more than 97 percent from a population of about 40 million in the 1980s, largely due, scientists say, to the widespread use of the drug in cattle, which causes fatal liver damage in vultures.

“The killer drug will be phased out by October in India and the coming years are crucial for vulture conservation,” Anwaruddin Choudhury, co-ordinator of Indian Bird Conservation Network in Assam, told Reuters.

Experts worry that without an international ban on diclofenac, the drug may still make its way to India despite the availability of a safe alternative.

original article here

  • rustom jamasji

    And the parsi punchayat keeps closing its eyes to an aviary project. Their decoy is to keep visiting aviary projects and then keep misinforming Zoroastrians about their unfeasability. Members would like to know if it was unfeasable then how come in India and abroad captive breeding projects of vulturs are sucessfull.
    One of the trustees gave the reason for non starting of aviary projects as being pragmatic. The members of the community wonder if all the projects funded by BHNS and the world arn’t pragmatic or is it not pragmatic as it would then thwart the efforts of some of the trustees and the famous Dr and Lawyer duo who threaten the community with dire consequences if not we close the dokhmenishini system.

    Surprisingly they play hide and seek quoting health hazard and then asking for a bungli in the same premises.

    Of ocurse the rains are weeks away and the association for alerting zoroastrians who some say have abandoned their ‘fight for housing policy’,for the fight against dokhmenishinisystem albiet under the guise as vield guirella fight under the veild burkha, the revivalist who want to revive zoroastrianism by abandoning the roots or the core of zoroastrianism , consecration of a fire temple and the system of dokhmenishini!. And of course the lawyer who wont dare change his wife’s religion’s policy but would blackmail his own community and the Doctor whose initiative would benefit the community if instead of fighting against its principles would fight to strenghten it.

  • U people are doing a great job. Im also doing the similar thing in my NGO. I started breading some rare endengered exotic birds and now soon start a breading cent. in kanpur UP India. Its nice to hear about u all.
    Well Done. GREAT
    God bless n keep it up…

  • Firoze Hirjikaka

    Some Parsis, particularly the traditionalists who want to propogate the dokhmenashi system as the exclusive disposal system for our community, seem to regard the breeding of vultures as a magic bullet that will solve many of the current problems. The reality is that the location of the doogerwadi, in the centre of the city and surrounded by high buildings, is not a natural environment for wild birds. Even if a flock of vultures are released around the doongerwadi, it is a moot point as to how long they will remain there.

  • The post by Robert seems to have been prompted by some one (no prizes for guessing) who has used his worn out H.M.V. record more than once on this blog. What can prompt Robert from ‘complimenting’ the community on 3rd October 2009 after going thru Archives of Parsi Khabar as old as 16th OCTOBER 2006 i.e. 3 years back?
    Mr Hirjikaka, please do not afford another opportunity to ONE who is fond of Reading his own name on this blog to start the tirade once again.Post of Robert is apparently ‘motivated’ by one who is keen to force his agenda on the entire community.PLEASE IGNORE THIS ISSUE.

  • Dear Firoze,
    You would not have failed to notice that this Robert is referring to an article dated 13th Oct 2006 which appeared on P.K.
    The third para of this Article reads “They are being kept in aviaries at the two centres, where their health is monitored and the adults are fed three kilograms of freshly slaughtered goat twice a week.”
    So in short, consecrated Dakmas will have to be defiled with “NASO” of goats. On the other hand, Parsees desist from eating flesh for three to four days when some close relatives passes away. Is this is how Bahman Amashaspand is to be pleased by puritan elements of our community?
    To me, the post of Robert appears to be an attempt of raking up this topic once again as a means of continuous propaganda by vested individuals, you can come to know their identity.

  • piloo_2

    Ah, Mr. Rustom Jamasji,
    Miss you so much these days, on Parsi Khabar where else. Your post of 27th May 2007 is now well over three years old. In 2008 your friends scored a ‘massive’ Victory over all ‘irreligious deformists’. Then what is the cause for not ‘strenghthening’ the failed method of disposal of corpses. With the majority at your command you ought to have proved all dobting Thomases wrong. But oops you seem to have committed ‘historical blunder’ of opening your mouth too big.
    Really miss you.

  • piloo_2

    Jamasji,
    It was your zeal and endeavor to prove that steps were being taken to strengthen the failed system by starting the Aviary project. You had attributed non starting of Aviary project on earlier Trustees. Now that your friend and those whom you adore and admire are occupying the posts of Trustees, it is for you and those whom you admire to state for the benefit of the community at large,the steps taken to establish the Aviary. Yes, I am sarcastic because in your own words the project was ‘pragmatic’.
    Kindly read your own post of 2007 ‘And the parsi punchayat keeps closing its eyes to an aviary project. Their decoy is to keep visiting aviary projects and then keep misinforming Zoroastrians about their unfeasibility.What is the status after three years.
    I am further reproducing extracts from your same post of 27th May 200 7 ‘The members of the community wonder if all the projects funded by BHNS and the world arn’t pragmatic or is it not pragmatic as itwould then thwart the efforts of some of the trustees and the famous Dr and Lawyer duo who threaten the community with dire consequences if not we close the dokhmenishini system.’
    If it was really ‘pragmatic’ why has it not been launched even after over 3 years from your post of 27th May 2007? This is now an inconvenient question for a person to reply though it was easy and simple to blame and condemn everybody and call them irreligious three years back.WHO IS NOW ‘keeping visiting aviary projects and then keep misinforming Zoroastrians about their unfeasibility’ to use your own earlier terminology.
    You have NOW stated and I reproduce your own quote ‘Again I have shows that exposure to air is the fastest mode of decomposition according to science’. IF SO WHY NOT DISMANTLE THE SOLAR PANELS WHICH ARE CONSIDERED BY “SCHOLARS” TO BE THEOLOGICALLY WRONG AND ARE EQUIVALENT TO BURNING THE BODIES?
    In the last para of your aforesaid over three year old post you have referred to ‘veiled burkha’. I leave it for sensible readers to decide who is now putting on ‘veiled burkha’.
    As for your advice that ‘I also feel that a blog must respect the subject, you would be advised to read the subject of the blog which is ‘Breeding revives fortunes of India’s rare vultures’ and my post is to enquire about the PROGRESS made in this regard during the last two years with new innovative trustees in saddle. My post is precisely on the subject.
    As for your reasoning to abstain these days from ‘ not blogging here is not due to having a diff opinion than someone else but to avoid argument with those who argue or thirst to drive in their agenda’- DO READERS TAKE IT THAT ALL YOUR EARLIER POSTS WERE A PART OF YOUR OWN THIRST TO DRIVE YOUR OWN AGENDA?