Abstract
POPULATION DECLINE OF VULTURES IN THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT ASSOCIATED WITH SOME SOCIAL ASPECTS

Sanjay Kumar Narang*, M. L. Thakur and Kiran Chauhan

ABSTRACT

Indian White-backed Vulture was thought likely to be the commonest large bird of prey in the world but the era of abundant Gyps vultures in the Indian subcontinent came to a sudden end in the 1990s which was firstly documented in Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur in eastern Rajasthan. Eight, out of nine species of vultures found in India have been facing problem of existence and therefore declared as threatened. Veterinary use of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, diclofenac in livestock is the main, cause of the population declines. Other reasons believed to be responsible for the decline are loss of nesting habitat, decreased breeding efficiency, infectious diseases, general environmental pollution etc. Vultures are exposed to toxic levels of diclofenac when they feed on carcasses of livestock which have died within a few days of treatment, and which contain residues of the drug. Vultures provide very important ecological, social and cultural services especially in India by scavenging on animal carcasses of animals and thereby helping to keep the environment clean, and the disposal of dead bodies as per the religious practices of the Parsi community. Vultures are the primary removers of carrion in India and Africa. Removal of a major scavenger from the ecosystem will affect the equilibrium between populations of other scavenging species and will result in increase in putrefying carcasses. The provision of supplementary food is a well-established tool in the conservation of vulture species. General public involvement and supplementary feeding tried in different parts of the world could be successful in conservation of vultures in India.

Keywords: Vultures, Population Decline, Diclofenac, Supplementary Feeding, Indian subcontinent, Conservation measures.


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