Vulture breeding centre in Bannerghatta caught in red tapism

In 2020, Karnataka planned to protect the last Long-Billed Vultures at Ramanagara with a breeding centre in Bannerghatta National Park. Four years later, there has been no progress.
A long-billed vulture
A long-billed vultureExpress

BENGALURU: For the past four years, the initiative to breed vultures at the dedicated centre in Bannerghatta National Park has remained stagnant. Despite the prepared infrastructure, there has been no breeding activity during this period.

Recently, Karnataka's Forest, Environment, and Ecology Minister Eshwar B Khandre met with officials from the Zoo Authority of Karnataka (ZAK) and heads of zoos in Karnataka, directing them to make preparations. However, officials are now unsure what preparations to make as there are no birds present.

In 2020, recognizing the urgency to protect the last surviving Long-Billed Vultures (LBVs) in Ramanagara Vulture Sanctuary at Ramadevarabetta, the Karnataka government decided to establish a breeding centre in Bannerghatta National Park.

“A land of two acres was ear- marked and identified. All infrastructure is in place. Minister Khandre said it will be managed by Bannerghatta Biological Park. But the birds are yet to come. We have asked the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) for clearance, but the file is stuck there. We are already late by one and half years,” said an official from ZAK, not wanting to be named.

“Pinjore vulture breeding centre in Haryana is ready to give us the birds as they now have an excess. They have over 300 vultures and are ready to gift 25 LBVs to Karnataka. They have written four letters to us on the same, and every time we receive these letters , it is accepted and sent to CZA for approval. But the file is stuck in red tapism,” the official added.

If all had gone well, this would be the first and largest facility of its kind in south India. The Karnataka government spent Rs 130 crore to set up the infrastructure along with a vulture restaurant to feed the birds diclofenac-free cattle.

There are around six LBVs in Ramanagara and 10- 12 Egyptian vultures in the sanctuary in Ramadevarabetta.

When contacted, an official from CZA said they were not aware and the file will be looked into.

Forest department officials said starting the breeding centre at the earliest was crucial as the population is on a drastic decline. The hillock is under threat due to the Bengaluru- Mysuru expressway, increasing urbanisation around it and reduction in prey base.

“Once the vultures are brought, breeding will not happen immediately. The birds will have to acclimatize to the new surroundings. They will then have to be given space and time to breed. Rewildering will also have to be done. Then the young hatchlings, with least human interference will have to be released in the sanctuary. All this will take time,” the official added.

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