Vultures in India

India vulture births are hailed

Three species of rare vultures in India have been successfully bred in captivity, conservationists say. Most of the birds were reared in the Indian state of Haryana, but also in the state of West Bengal.  Among the 10 chicks that have fledged this year are four oriental white-backed vultures. Experts say this species – once found all over India – has been declining at a “rate quicker than the dodo before it became extinct”


India has nine species of vultures in the wild. These are the Oriental White-backed Vulture (Gyps bengalensis), Slender billed Vulture (Gyps tenuirostris), Long billed Vulture (Gyps indicus), Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus), Red Headed Vulture (Sarcogyps calvus), Indian Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus), Himalayan Griffon (Gyps himalayensis), Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) and Bearded Vulture or Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus). The population of three species i.e. White-backed Vulture, Slender billed Vulture and Long billed Vulture in the wild has declined drastically over thepast decade. The decline of Gyps genus in India has been put at 97% by 2005

Recent changes in populations of resident Gyps vultures in India.

Indian White-rumped VultureWikipedia

This species was very common, especially in the Gangetic plains of India and often seen nesting on the avenue trees within large cities in the region. Hugh Whistler noted for instance in his guide to the birds of India that it “is the commonest of all the Vultures of India, and must be familiar to those who have visited the Towers of Silence in Bombay.” T. C. Jerdon noted that “[T]his is the most common Vulture of India, and is found in immense numbers all over the country, … At Calcutta one may frequently be seen seated on the bloated corpse of some Hindoo floating up or down with the tide, its wing spread, to assist in steadying it…”Prior to the 1990s they were even seen as a nuisance, particularly to aircraft as they were often involved in bird strikes In 1990, the species had already become rare in Andhra Pradesh in the districts of Guntur and Prakasham. The hunting of the birds for meat by the Bandola (Banda) people there was attributed as a reason. A cyclone in the region during 1990 resulted in numerous livestock deaths and no vultures were found at the carcasses.

This species, as well as the Indian and Slender-billed Vultures have suffered a 99 percent population decrease in India and nearby countries since the early 1990s. The decline has been widely attributed to poisoning by diclofenac, which is used as veterinary non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), leaving traces in cattle carcasses which when fed on leads to kidney failure in birds. Diclofenac was also found to be lethal at low dosages to other species in the genus Gyps. Other NSAIDs were also found to be toxic, to Gyps as well as other birds such as storks.[34] Organochlorine pesticide was found from egg and tissue samples from around India varying in concentrations from 0.002 ?g/g of DDE in muscles of vulture from Mudumalai to 7.30 ?g/g in liver samples from vultures of Delhi. Dieldrin varied from 0.003 and 0.015 ?g/g. These pesticide levels have not however been implicated in the decline

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