Vultures in India India has 9 species of vultures in the wild. These are :
- Vultures are nature's most successful scavengers
- Apart from that, they also provide an array of ecological, economic, and cultural services.
- High body temperatures and strong stomach acids allow vultures to ingest carrion infected by bacteria such as anthrax without any ill-effects.
- The dramatic decline of vultures has created a big vacuum leaving millions of carcasses rotting, thus increasing the possibility of the spread of diseases such as tuberculosis, anthrax, brucellosis, foot-and-mouth, etc.
- Other scavengers such as rats and feral dogs have moved in but they lack the efficiency of vultures, whose metabolism ends all the pathogens. Dogs and rats, on the other hand, have instead become carriers of the pathogens themselves.
- Oriental White-backed Vulture (Gyps bengalensis),
- Long-billed Vulture (Gyps indicus),
- Slender-billed Vulture (Gyps tenuirostris),
- Himalayan Griffon (Gyps himalayensis),
- Indian Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus),
- Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus)
- Bearded Vulture or Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus).
- Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) and
- Red Headed Vulture/Asian king vulture (Sarcogyps calvus),
.Causes of death of Vultures in India:
- Because of the evidence of widespread and rapid population decline, four species i.e. White-backed Vulture, Slender-billed Vulture, Red-headed Vulture, and Long-billed Vulture has been declared ‘Critically Endangered’ By IUCN.
Steps were taken by the Government to Protect Vultures The following are the important steps taken by the Government for protection of Vultures in the country:
- Veterinary use of diclofenac is considered to be the main threat to the vultures in India. Diclofenac is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) administered to livestock, used to treat symptoms of inflammation, fevers and/or pain associated with disease or wounds. It was widely used in India beginning in the 1990s. Once they consume the diclofenac contaminated flesh, their kidney stop functioning leading to death.
- Rapid urbanization in many parts of India has also displaced them from their habitat.
- They are also targeted by poachers to sell their parts to people who use witchcraft.
- The scavengers also die after feeding on poisoned carcasses left behind by poachers.
Also read: Great Indian Bustard
- Protection status of White-backed, Long-Billed and Slender Billed Vultures has been upgraded from Schedule IV to Schedule I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
- Bombay Natural History Society and the Haryana State Forest Department has taken up a project on conservation breeding of vultures.
- A ‘Vulture Captive Care facility’ has been established at
- The Ministry of Health has issued Gazette Notification 2008 prohibiting the manufacture of Diclofenac for animal use and another notification in 2015 restricting packaging of multi-dose vials of Diclofenac to a single dose.
- A replacement drug has been developed and proposed after tests on vultures in captivity: meloxicam. Meloxicam affects cattle the same way as diclofenac but is harmless for them.
- The State Governments have set up vulture care centers for the conservation of three species of vultures.
- National Action Plan (2006) on Vulture Conservation created by the Government of India provides for strategies, actions for containing the decline of vulture population through ex-situ, in-situ vulture conservation.
- Captive breeding centers have been set up at the Zoos at Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Junagarh and Hyderabad by the Central Zoo Authority.
- Initiatives have also been taken to encourage mass education and awareness for vulture conservation.