Make secure the ban on cow medicine can save India’s vultures. In just over a decade, after catering on cattle carcasses laced with an anti-inflammatory drug, millions of vultures have died from kidney failure.
On October 8, 2020, eight satellite-tagged white-rumped vultures that were raised in captivity were released from a bird sanctuary near the Pinjore vulture conservation breeding center in northern Haryana. The task had been in the works for years. Monitoring vulture populations in a 100-km radius of the place for keeping birds confined. Also monitored the area for [vulture-toxic] drugs, diet, food availability, and everything. Around 300 captive vultures divide among three species – white-rumped, slender-billed, and Indian– are housed and fed in the foothills of the Himalayas in India.
Only some thousand survived and the three species are listed as critically jeopardize by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Vultures that cater on Diclofenac-laced carcasses died from kidney failure, collapsing into garbage dumps, trees, and fields, their blood full of uric acid, sparkling around their organs. The drug was banned for veterinary use in India, Nepal, in 2006 and Bangladesh in 2010.
Getting ready for wild. Meanwhile, the other side of the conservation effort continues – release them into the wild and breed vultures. Breeding places like Pinjore cater wild vultures to support plain captive-reared vultures with their wild counterparts. Getting about 200 wild vultures over few years of feeding them, and there have been very good interactions between the wild and captive vultures.
By February 2021, the eight vultures float on their own – about some km from the aviary. They have not interacted with the wild vultures yet. Although they fly with them, they sit in other zones. They are still providing food, although some of them have started exploring meals. And so far, there is no drug-related dying, which is a very bright matter.
Finally, in November 2020, the Indian government announced the Action Plan for Vulture Conservation in India 2020-2025, an ambitious conservation pattern to set up new breeding centers like the one in Pinjore, establish new vulture hubs in each state, and give them better monitoring including a nationwide population count of the birds.
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