Millennium Post

Officials delay release of birds into wild after vulture deaths in Assam

Kolkata: The state Forest department is making a careful approach when it comes to releasing vultures in the wild after the successful completion of the breeding of the birds at the Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre at Rajabhatkhawa in the Buxa Tiger Reserve.

Their move was prompted from the recent deaths of 18 rare slender-billed vultures at Jamuguri Gaon at Sivasagar district in Assam last month. As per reports, the scavenger birds died after eating a poison-laced carcass of a calf.

The department had planned to release 60 vultures in phases and decided to experimentally release two Himalayan Griffin by the end of this month.

However sources said that it is likely to be delayed.

" There are various factors that needs to be taken into account before the release. We need to ensure that diclofenac, a veterinary drug used on cattle is not used by the veterinary physician. Certified vets are hardly using it but often animals are treated by non certified doctors who use the same," said Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Wildlife Ravikant Sinha.

A senior Forest official said that chemists and druggists also need to be educated to not to sell the drug.

"We have already taken up the matter with the state Directorate of Drugs Control for organising sensitization exercise. We have to eradicate all the negative factors before we release the vultures in the open" he added.

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 found 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 depleting population of these birds, the Union government had decided to set up vulture breeding centres across the country with an aim to boost their population. The Rajabhatkhawa centre was set up and in 2008-09, was 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 more than 115, which include Oriental White-backed vulture, Long-billed vulture and Slender-billed vulture.

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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