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Forest dept releases 6 vultures in the wild

Kolkata: The state Forest department on Tuesday released six vultures in the wild after successful completion of their breeding at Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre at Rajabhatkhawa in Buxa Tiger Reserve.

State Forest minister Rajib Banerjee formally released them in presence of senior officials of his department.

"Two of the vultures has been fitted with satellite transmitters which will help us to track their movement," said Banerjee. A senior Forest department official said that they need to monitor the vulture's movement to have an idea of the place from where they can get their food.

"The birds can fly upto 100 km without food and we need to locate their survival pattern for some period of time as gradually we have plans to release 40 birds," said Ravi Kant Sinha, state Chief Wildlife Warden.

The department has ensured that diclofenac, a veterinary drug, used on cattle is not used by the veterinary physician. Certified vets hardly use it but often animals are treated by non-certified doctors who use the same.

It may be mentioned that about 20 years back, it was revealed in a survey that the population of vulture was declining fast, thanks to the use of diclofenac.

The drug that remains in cattle flesh was identified as the cause that was killing the scavenger birds while those were consuming the cattle carcasses.

In the wake of this deplete, the union government decided to set up vulture breeding centres across the country with the aim to stabilise this avian population. The Rajabhatkhawa centre was then set up and in 2006, the first captive breeding of a Slender-billed vulture was carried out here.

According to sources in the Forest department the population in the breeding centre is presently 103 which include Oriental White-backed vulture, Long-billed vulture and Slender-billed vulture.

It may be mentioned that vulture conservation has assumed utmost importance after a recent study in 2016, reported that of the 22 vulture species, nine are critically endangered, three are endangered and four are near threatened.

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