Vultures’ census to be conducted on May 26, 27

TIMES OF INDIA

RAJKOT: The Gujarat Ecological Education and Research (GEER) Foundation, an autonomous body of Forests and Environment department, will carry out a vultures’ census in association with local NGOs in the state on May 26 and 27.

The last vultures’ population estimation was carried out in 2010. Recently, the state government said in the state assembly that there are only 1,065 vultures remaining in the state.

According to nature conservationists, three species of vultures endemic to South Asia, the Oriental white-rumped vulture, long-billed vulture and slender-billed vulture are at high risk of extinction.

Use of the veterinary drug diclofenac is responsible for these three species reaching the brink of extinction. The central government had banned veterinary use of the drug in May 2006.

Vulture conservationists say that despite the ban, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) is still available in the open market in 30ml bulk.

According to officials, in Gujarat, there were 2,135 vultures in 2005 which declined to 1,065 in 2010 showing a 50% decline. The vulture species are protected under scheduled one category of Wildlife Protection Act.

However, conservationists are hopeful that the rate of decline of endangered vultures might be slower than earlier years as many efforts are being put in place by forest department, different birds’ conservation groups and local NGOs to save the vanishing vultures.

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