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Protected areas for vultures to be set up

 

With the vulture population in the state going up from a mere 30 to 800 in the last one decade, the wildlife wing of the Forest Department has decided to identify new protected areas and set up vulture restaurants for the natural scavengers whose number had plummeted.

The latest assessment of vultures undertaken by the Wildlife wing last month has brought good news as efforts to provide a safe and congenial environment to vultures has given exceedingly good results. In the nestling survey 300 nests with two eggs each and over 200 fledglings have been sighted.

"Encouraged by the results we intend to increase the number of protected areas to other parts around the Pong Dam in Kangra where we will set up two vulture restaurants spread over seven hectares each so that the birds get hassle-free feeding grounds," said AK Gulati, Principal Chief Conservator for Forests (Wildlife).

He said the department had tied up with 'gosadans' to hand over diclofenac-free carcasses which would be kept within the fenced vulture restaurants so that the birds get enough food.

The Wildlife wing had earlier set up a protected area on over 200 hectares for mainly the protection of oriental white-backed vultures in the Lunj area of Kangra. It proposes to protect their habitat and at the same time protect tall trees which offer those a natural nesting site.

Seeing the encouraging results of their efforts areas in and around Nahan and in Mandi district are being identified for setting up protected areas. Gulati admitted that positive results were now being witnessed of banning the anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac, administered to livestock.

"The availability of diclofenac-free carcasses has helped save vultures and we can see an appreciable increase in their number," he asserted. It was in a desperate bid to save the endangered vultures in 2006 that India, Pakistan and Nepal banned the use of the drug, followed by Bangladesh in 2012.

With vultures being capable of covering huge distances, the wildlife wing is hopeful that the number will increase rapidly all over the state. Vultures have been sighted often in areas in and around Nahan and in Mandi. Deskinned drug-free carcasses will be provided for the vulture population in the safe zone to rise naturally.

Growth Story

* Number of vultures up from 30 in 2004 to 800 in 2013

* Two vulture restau-rants to be set up near Pong Dam

* Safe zones to be set up near Nahan and in Mandi district

* Positive results of banning diclofenac being witnessed

The Tribune (27-05-2013)