Vulture Conservation

 

Indian Vultures have beaten even the Dodo in the race to near extinction

Once the most abundant bird of prey species in the world, a staggering 95 million soared the skies of the Indian subcontinent today barely 4000-5000 of these birds survive. Society for Mahseer Conservancy’s vulture conservation program focuses largely on the Indian White Back Vulture (Gyps bengalensis), which has faced a near catastrophic decline in the last decade. Nearly 99.9% of the species has disappeared due to the use of a painkiller drug, Diclofenac, in cattle. 

 

Diclofenac is widely used by the rural population in India, despite the fact it is banned for use in livestock.  If a vulture feeds on a carcass that was treated with Diclofenac before dying, the bird experiences kidney failure and visceral gout, followed shortly by death.  Given that India is a largely non-beef eating country, most cattle carcasses are dumped and left to rot, meaning that the potential for vultures to feed on a contaminated carcass is high.  

 

What we do to save the remaining vultures

Society for Mahseer Conservancy’s aim is to eradicate Diclofenac from the Corbett area and vicinity, giving the vultures a chance to soar again. Their work involves a Diclofenac awareness campaign targeting all villages in the area, with particular attention paid to those containing large cattle numbers.  Another crucial part of their work involves monitoring known colonies of Indian White Backed Vultures.

 

How you can help

This is where volunteers come in.  Monitoring of the colonies is vital to determine whether the colony numbers are stable, on the rise or decreasing.  It is also crucial to keep an eye on the birds for signs of Diclofenac poisoning.

 

Sick, tired or injured vultures are taken immediately for veterinary help and on recovery are released after ringing. All this is still too little to repay a species that has for time immemorial served mankind by consuming decaying or rotting carcasses thus keeping away disease. This work is highly rewarding and knowing that you are part of important work to save a critically endangered species is an experience that you will keep forever. 

 

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What You'll Do
Volunteers are invited to take part in the colony monitoring as part of Mahseer Conservancy’s vulture team. You’ll be expected to fill observation sheets created by local experts with valuable inputs from Royal Society for Protection of Birds- UK and Bombay Natural History Society- India.  Volunteer comes to know the colony, can identify the different birds, and the behaviour of the birds. The data you collect will be invaluable for the protection of this critically endangered species.
Cost :

This programme is free of cost. However if you can afford INR 5000 per week will go directly for the conservation of vultures.

Best Time To Come

To witness breeding season November – March.
Summers months between April and July are difficult time for Vultures and head drooping is common. Monsoon months of July till September make observation difficult.