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Conservation of Vultures

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    21st Oct, 2022


The Tamil Nadu state has formed a committee to set up an institutional framework for the effective conservation of vultures, which almost went extinct in the country at the beginning of the 21st century.

  • After a 96% decline in India’s vulture population between 1993 and 2003, the Central government put into place two action plans to protect the species at the national level.
  • The first in 2006 and the second, ongoing plan for 2020-2025.

About the committee

  • The committee, which has a two-year tenure, will take steps for monitoring the conservation and recovery of existing vulture sites and mapping of vulture populations across the State for creating safe zones.
  • It will work to eliminate the use of toxic veterinary drugs, the main reason for vulture fatalities.
  • Prevention of poisoning of cattle carcasses, the principal food of vultures, is also one of the responsibilities of the newly formed committee.

About Vultures

  • It is one of the 22 species of large carrion-eating birds that live predominantly in the tropics and subtropics.
  • India is home to 9 species of Vulture namely-
    • The Oriental white-backed, 
    • Long-billed, 
    • Slender-billed, 
    • Himalayan, 
    • Red-headed, 
    • Egyptian, 
    • Bearded, 
    • Cinereous
    • The Eurasian Griffon
  • Most of these 9 species face dangers of extinction.
  • Bearded, Long-billed, Slender-billed, Oriental white-backed are protected in the Schedule-1 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. 
    • Rest is protected under ‘Schedule IV’.
  • Conservation status– As per the IUCN’s Red list out of 9 species of vultures in India, 4 species are critically endangered,1 is endangered, 3 are near threatened and 1 is least concerned.
    • White rumped vulture- Critically Endangered
    • Slender billed vulture- Critically Endangered
    • Long billed vulture- Critically Endangered
    • Red headed vulture- Critically Endangered
    • Egyptian vulture- Endangered
    • Himalayan Griffon- Near Threatened
    • Cinereous vulture- Near Threatened
    • Bearded vulture- Near Threatened
    • Griffon Vulture- Least Concern

Causes for decline

  • Use of Diclofenac: A veterinary nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) in 2004 found in the carcass of cattle the vultures feed on. 
    • The veterinary use of this was banned in 2008.
  • Pesticides: The presence of organochlorine pesticide, polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heavy metals were also the cause of mortality.
  • Lack of Nesting Trees
  • Electrocution by power lines
  • Food Dearth and Contaminated Food

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