Abode of endangered vultures safe

Ramadevarabetta in Ramanagara district is declared sanctuary

Abode of endangered vultures safe

The State government has declared 346.14 hectares in Ramanagara as Ramadevarabetta Vulture Sanctuary (RVS), to protect long-billed vultures, which are on the verge of extinction.

The 15 vultures on cliffs of Ramadevarabetta are now protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, in the sanctuary which is claimed to be the first of its kind in the country.

Notification

The State government in its notification dated January 31, 2012, stated: “In exercise of powers conferred under Section 26A of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 (Amended in 2003) (Central Act 53 of 1972) has considered the area situation and limits which are specified in the schedule notification of the Government of his highness Maharaja of Mysore State, Notification no R-2992-FT-61-17-4 dated September 17, 1917 to an extent of 346.14 hectares to declare as Ramadevarabetta Vulture Sanctuary”

“It has been declared a sanctuary because of its adequate ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological, zoological association or importance and for purpose of protecting, propagating and developing wildlife,” said the notification issued by Umadevi, Under Secretary to Government, Forest, Ecology and Environment Department.

Demarcation

The area has been demarcated and a board has been installed in the region announcing the declaration of the sanctuary.

“By declaring this a sanctuary, the State government has showed that it cares for the species,” said Kumar Pushkar, former chief conservator of forests, Bangalore Circle (now at Bandipur), who had pursued this when he was conservator, Bangalore Rural district.

The process to declare it a sanctuary began in 2005. It received a boost with the locals joining the movement to save the endangered bird.

Although it had earlier been a reserve forest, Ramadevarabetta will now get a high-level protection status and a management plan will be soon submitted to ensure better and effective action as this bird of prey has been protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Act.

Though the sanctuary does not enjoy as many benefits as a tiger reserve or maybe a national park, it is sufficient to protect the bird species, say ornithologists. To ensure better protection, the Forest department is also planning a tree park around the sanctuary.

The long-billed vulture (Gyps tenuirostris) has a bald head, broad wings and short tail feathers. It is smaller and less heavily-built than the Eurasian Griffon, usually weighing between 5.5 kg and 6.3 kg and measuring 80cm – 100 cm long and 205 cm to 229 cm across the wings.

Food habits

The vulture species breeds mainly on cliffs. Like other vultures, it is a scavenger feeding mostly on carcasses of animals. It often moves in flocks.

The species which was in good number just a decade ago started dwindling rapidly, mainly due to increase in use of dicolphenic, a pain killer drug extensively on the cattle during their death, say experts.

Ramadevarabetta, which is 50 km from Bangalore, is one of the world's oldest granite outcrops and is known as a South India’s earliest rock climbing hub. The region has also been tipped to be a bear sanctuary.

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