Rajabhatkhawa, Alipurduar, West Bengal:
India marked a milestone for vulture conservation with the second phase of the critically endangered eastern vulture reintroduction program at Rajabhatkhawa near the Buxa Tiger Reserve in Alipurduar in West Bengal. Ten endangered eastern vultures were released from an aviary using a pulley in a hide 50 meters away. All ten vultures were over two years old and were the eastern white-backed species of critically endangered according to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) status. The species has declined by 99.9% in the wild in India. The birds were deployed with satellite tags, also known as Platform Transmitter Terminal (PTT). With the help of this PTT, the birds are now continuously monitored via satellites.
Vultures are named as ecosystem doctors because of the role they play in our ecosystem. Their population has declined dramatically in recent decades. Such efforts are a major snare to prevent their extinction. This time, 10 critically endangered eastern whitebacks are released into the wild. are monitored and more will also be released in phases in the future,” Buxa Tiger Reserve deputy field director Parveen Kaswan, IFS, told DailyExpertNews.
“A flight of hope and freedom. In another conservation milestone, 10 critically endangered Eastern White-backed Vultures were released today. They have been captive-bred at the Vulture Conservation Breeding Center and are equipped with platform transmitter terminals for monitoring,” Mr Kaswan tweeted, sharing a video of the moment.
A flight of hope and freedom. In another conservation milestone, 10 critically endangered Eastern white-backed vultures were released today. They are captive bred at the Vulture Conservation Breeding Center and are equipped with platform transmitter terminals for monitoring. pic.twitter.com/auQk9FhPWk
— Parveen Kaswan, IFS (@ParveenKaswan) July 18, 2022
The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) estimates that India had 40 million vultures in the 1980s, but that number declined by more than 99 percent in the 1990s, attributed to the use of an anti-inflammatory. medicine called diclofenac, which was routinely used to treat livestock in veterinary medicine. In 2006, India banned the use of the drug to treat livestock.
dr. Bivash Pandav, Director of BNHS, said: “Since 2002, BNHS has engaged in the breeding of three critically endangered species of vultures Pinjore (Haryana) Rajabhatkhawa (West Bengal) Rani (Assam) and Van Vihar (Madhya Pradesh). The three species are eastern white-backed vultures, long-billed vultures and thin-billed vultures. BNHS has successfully bred them in captivity and has begun the experimental release of these captive vultures to return them to the wild. Rajabhatkhawa center receives support from the government of West Bengal and the government of India, where ten of these captive-bred vultures were released in 2021 and all ten have survived in the wild. In the second phase, we released ten more white-backed eastern white-backed vultures into the wild today.”
“Over the past few decades, the population of these white-backed vultures has been reduced by 99.9 percent. While they are ecosystem doctors and have an important role to play. Platform transmitter terminals are equipped to monitor the activities of these vultures in the wild. satellites,” Mr Kaswan added in a tweet, explaining that these vultures will continue to be monitored after their release.
Vulture breeding has been carried out systematically and scientifically in near-natural conditions. The vultures released today have been kept in a pre-enclosed aviary since October 2021 and they had several interactions with the free-ranging birds that were attracted outside the released aviary by eating them. offer,” explained Mr. Kaswan.
Former director of the Bombay Natural History Society, Dr. Deepak Apte, told DailyExpertNews: “Releasing captive-bred vultures is a milestone for the vulture conservation program in India. I’ve been part of this project and it’s very encouraging. Captive-bred vultures in four states. are Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Assam and West Bengal.The current release is a very important step that has credibly established a successful breeding program for the conservation of vultures in India.This is a kind of insurance policy that India now has a robust framework to breed vultures in captivity and release them into the wild when needed.”
The way the vultures were released is called a soft release/re-introduction program. This release also makes Rajbhatkhawa Vulture Conservation Breeding Center of Buxa Tiger Reserve (BTR) one of the most successful centers in the country. Likewise, to conserve these critically endangered and important species in the future, phase-wise introduction will also take place, the center said.