Nature’s custodians of cleanliness, they have been silently performing their task from centuries. Vultures are majestic birds which feed on animal carcasses and help keep our environment clean and disease free.
Vultures co-habit human populations, depending heavily on human activity. In India, only about 4% of cattle are destined for human consumption. Vultures process carcasses of dead cattle and therefore constitute a critical link in India’s natural animal disposal system.
The extensive use of Diclofenac, a drug illegally sold in India for treatment of cattle, poisons the carcass and is the Vulture’s nemesis. Vulture populations have seen a dramatic decline in the last 15 years. On an average, all Asian species have declined by more than 95% driving them to the brink of extinction. As a result, carcasses rot in fields, our very source of food and grain, as drinking water gets contaminated and unfit for human consumption.
Most worryingly, loss of vultures has resulted in an increase in the number of feral dogs around carcass dumps — the bites of which are the most common cause of human rabies resulting in over 30,000 lives lost every year, 70% of these are children under the age of 15!
Captive breeding programs have been initiated to conserve Vultures. Being long lived and slow in breeding, the process is expected to take decades.
ONEFORBLUE supports Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra’s Vulture Conservation programme on Maharashtra’s Konkan belt.