Rare vulture population up: Study

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
Rare vulture population up: Study

May 19, 2014-

The number of Oriental White-backed Vulture (Gyps bengalensis), a vulture species that is under the verge of extinction, has increased in the recent years.

An annual count performed across the Tarai lowland covering the East-West Highway  this month found the number of Oriental White-backed Vulture at 68, a jump of 25 compared to last year.

Since 2002, the Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN) has been conducting national vulture survey to identify and record the number of the critically endangered scavengers that had witnessed a significant decline in their population due to the veterinary use of Diclofenac, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. The first survey in 2002 had put the vulture population at 205. This number had dropped to 55 in 2009.

 According to Khadananda Paudel, vulture conservation officer and a lead researcher of the survey with BCN, the population of these vulture species has stabilised in western Nepal, one of their prime habitats.

The launch of Vulture Conservation Action Plan in 2009, creation of vulture safe zones and vulture restaurants in different parts of the country through community-based approaches since 2006 contributed in the growth of the dwindling vulture population to some extent, said Paudel.

The road count vultures’ survey supported by Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, United Kingdom, was conducted from May 2 to 16, and covered the area extending from Narayanghat of Chitwan to Gaddachowki of Kanchanpur district.

The survey identified and recorded all vultures sighted within 1,000-metre stretch of the either side of the road along the East-West Highway. The study was also performed along the mountain routes of Attariya-Doti-Dadeldhura-Baitadi-Darchula in the Far-Western Region, Lamahi-Tulsipur-Salyan-Rukum and Bhalubang-Pyuthan-Rolpa, Pyuthan-Arghakhanchi-Gulmi-Palpa in the Mid-Western Region.

South Asia’s vulture population has dramatically decreased since the 1990s. Monitoring of vultures in Nepal till 2011 indicates 91 percent decline in White-rumped Vulture population, according to BCN.

Published: 20-05-2014 10:26

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