Rare vultures bring cheer to Bengal conservationists

Rare sighting of vultures bring cheer to Bengal conservationists

Rare vultures spotted at Bagrakote in West Bengal. (Photo Credit: Kumar Vimal)

Vulture conservationists are elated over the recent sightings of hundreds of rare white-backed vultures in the Dooars region of North Bengal. According to sources in the Forest Department such sightings have taken place after nearly two decades in the region.

The rare vultures were spotted by the District Forest Officer (DFO) Kumar Vimal earlier this week. He spotted a 250 strong flock of the rare vultures near a rail track at Bagrakote area in Jalpaiguri district.

“More 250 vultures were spotted at Bagrakote on March 9, These are white-backed vultures. I was surprised to see them in such a large number together and managed to capture the sight on my cellphone,” Vimal told DH. He also said that at that time he was travelling from Cooch Behar district to Jalpaiguri.

However, the sightings of the rare birds have created a new cause of concern for Forest Department officials regarding their source of food. According to sources due to years of absence of vultures in north Bengal locals have stopped disposing of carcasses of cattle in the local dumping ground. Instead, they bury the carcasses.

“We have decided to launch a mass awareness drive to ensure steady food sources for vultures as without such sightings will be reduced to short lives success,” a said a senior Forest Department official.

The sightings have brought many reasons to cheer for conservationists. There is a difference of opinion among conservationists regarding the species of the vultures. A section of them has claimed that these are Himalayan Griffon vultures and not white-backed vultures.

However, they said regardless of the species such sightings of vultures in large numbers was definitely a crucial achievement for conservation efforts.

Eight Himalayan Griffon vultures were experimentally released into the wild with radio collars from the Rajabhatkhawa Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre in Bengal on December 17. Scientists have been keeping track of their movements since then.

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