Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Vulture population on the rise in the Nilgiris


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Various threats to wildlife population

  • The population of vultures in the Nilgiris has increased by more than 26 % since 2012.
  • However the major threats, such as deliberate poisoning of cattle carcasses, are still prevalent in the region.

Vultures in Nilgiri BR

  • In 2012, the number of vultures seen in the Nilgiris was around 152 individuals, comprising the White-rumped vulture, Asian king vulture and the Long-billed vulture.
  • Since then, the population increased each year till 2014, before sudden crashes in 2015 and 2016.
  • It then recovered to 192 individuals in 2018.
  • While these three species of vulture are known to nest almost exclusively in the Mudumalai and Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserves in Southern India, other vulture species, such as the Cinereous vulture, the Himalayan griffon vulture and Egyptian vulture have been spotted visiting the Nilgiris each year.

Drug threat

  • After vulture populations across the Western Ghats, and the rest of India, plummeted in the 1990s, sustained monitoring and concerted conservation efforts led to a recovery in the last decade.
  • The effects diclofenac and other anti-inflammatory drugs had on vultures were first detailed in 2008, at a workshop in the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve.
  • This was done in subsequent workshops in the Nilgiris and Coimbatore in 2011 and 2015.
  • Unlike in other landscapes in India with high vulture population, the use of anti-inflammatory drugs like diclofenac, nimesulides and flunixin, was not as big a threat in the Nilgiris.
  • There was a demand for beef in the region. Cattle were beinge sold to slaughterhouses, which meant that people had very little reason to use expensive drugs to try and keep the animals alive when they fell ill.

Key resolution

  • One of the major resolutions adopted was that the Department of Animal Husbandry would stop procuring non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as diclofenac, which were given to cattle to cure them of illnesses.
  • This was to ensure that vultures did not die of scavenging carcasses that contained diclofenac residue.
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