Rare vultures sighted in Bellary

Rare vultures sighted in Bellary

Birds spotted by wildlife enthusiasts in remote village

Rare vultures sighted in Bellary

A few months after Ramadevarabetta in Ramanagar district was designated the country’s first vulture sanctuary, wildlife enthusiasts have come across a large congregation of critically endangered vultures in a remote village bordering Bellary and Raichur districts.

The team of wildlife enthusiasts comprising - Santosh Martin, Honourary Wildlife Warden, Bellary; K S Abdul Samad Kottur, a wildlife activist; local naturalist Anand Kundargi and budding naturalists and photographers Sunaina Martin and Sonia Martin – has discovered 16 long-billed vultures Gyps Indicus and four Egyptian vultures during their expedition to discover vultures in the remote parts of Bellary district.

The team discovered a huge rocky hill complex of about 20 sq km - an ideal habitat for the long billed vultures, where they roost and supposedly nest.  “We scanned the entire area and interacted with locals by showing photographs. On Saturday, we heard a group of 20 vultures were sighted in a field feeding on a sheep carcass. This led to the discovery,” Santosh told Deccan Herald. This is said to be the largest congregation of long-billed vultures in South India.

“The discovery of a flourishing population of vultures in North Karnataka comes as a ray of hope for the conservation of the critically endangered vultures which were not reported from Karnataka except Ramanagar and some National Parks for more than two decades.

Now it is our responsibility to conserve the bird and its habitat” said Kottur.

The species

The long -billed vulture (Gyps indicus) is distributed in central and peninsular India. It is a scavenger, feeding mostly on carcasses.

The vultures often move in flocks. The population of Indian vulture and the Indian white-rumped vulture declined by about 99 per cent in a span of eight years between 2000 and 2007, in India and Pakistan.

The extinction is attributed to extensive use of veterinary drug, diclofenac. The drug, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, is administered to cattle on the verge of death to ease suffering.

The drug remains as a residue in the carcass and deposits as uric acid in the kidneys of vultures which feed on the carcasses. Despite a ban imposed by the Union government, the use of the drug continues unabated.

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