Vulture extinction: Drug used on cattle blamed

BANGALORE: In a bid to save the Long-billed Vultures in the newly declared Vulture Sanctuary at Ramadevarabetta in Ramanagaram district, the Forest Department has requested the Department of V

Published: 16th April 2012 09:11 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 07:33 PM   |  A+A-

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BANGALORE: In a bid to save the Long-billed Vultures in the newly declared Vulture Sanctuary at Ramadevarabetta in Ramanagaram district, the Forest Department has requested the Department of Veterinary Sciences to stop administering Diclofenac vaccination for the cattle in the district.

It is interesting to note that the district has two sanctuaries (one proposed)- Ramadevarabetta Vulture Sanctuary and Handigundi Sloth Bear Sanctuary.

Taking note of the vultures’ population in and around Ramadevarabetta, the State Government, after receiving a proposal from the Forest Department, has declared it as a Vulture Sanctuary.

The total area of the sanctuary is around 3.45 sq km.

In Ind i a , Longbilled Vultures are only sighted in Ramadevarabetta near Ramanagaram and in Himachal Pradesh.

The peculiarity of this bird is that it feeds only on carcasses of animals.

Since most of the cattle are vaccinated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, these vultures get affected by Diclofenac.

Many naturalists have expressed their anxiety over the death of vultures after feeding on carcasses containing Diclofenac.

The Forest Department has requested the veterinarians of Ramanagaram District not to administer Diclofenac vaccine for the cattle as it is causing death of endangered Long-billed vultures in the region.

The department has taken up the awareness drive rigorously in all the villages in and around Ramadevarabetta so that they do not dump the carcasses openly, said P S Ranavat, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Ramanagaram Division.

He told Express that the department was in the process of preparing a management plan which will be finalised soon.

The plan also includes alternative feeding for the vultures.

Plans are afoot to have ‘vulture restaurants’ near the Ramadevarabetta.

The department is planning to take the help of the Bombay Natural History Society which has done a detailed study on a variety of vultures, he added.

When contacted, a bird watcher said whatever needs to be done has to be done at the earliest as the population of Long-billed Vultures is dwindling.

They have sighted around 10-12 vultures at Ramadevarabetta.

Since these birds feed on the carcasses of animals, it is to be seen whether the alternative method of feeding will attract them.

He recalls that there were more than 100 vultures in the whole area and now its population is in double digits.

“The future of these birds is in our hands.

Any conservation activity yields success if there is involvement of local population.

Taking the help of naturalists, the department can definitely spread the message of ‘No Diclofenac’ at least in this district.

Once the population is wiped out, it is very difficult to get them,” he warned.

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