Save vulture campaign launched in eastern Nepal

Panchthar, December 11

A campaign aimed at conserving vulture has started in eastern Nepal of late.

The campaign was launched at the initiative of various governmental and non-governmental organisations involved in conservation of vulture, an endangered bird species.

“Vultures, which feed on cadavers that would otherwise have filled the environment with foul smell and is often considered nature’s sweeper, is dying off due to rampant use of antibiotics to treat diseased cattle.

In this backdrop, the campaign to save vultures was an imperative for the environment’s sake,” said Panchthar Veterinary Hospital and Livestock Expert Centre Chief Dr Indra Narayan Sah.

As per a study carried out by Bird Conservation Association, there were a total of 500,000 vultures of different species in 1990. The number has now declined to just 12,000.

Again, as per the study carried out on dead vultures, diclophenec was detected in the bodies of most of the vultures that died. Apparently, these birds had suffered kidney failure and stones had been formed in their kidneys due to over-concentration of uric acid. Following the revelation, the government had started the Vulture Conservation Action Plan.

“Under the action plan, we’ve launched a number of programmes, such as banning the use of diclophenec, setting up vulture restaurants, protecting the habitat of the bird and observing Vulture Day,” said Bhupal Nepali, project chief of Vulture Conservation Programme under Nepal Bird Conservation Association.

“The bird lays eggs only once a year and its eggs take 75 days to hatch and it takes 120 days before the chicks from the eggs are ready to fly. This is one of the reasons why vultures are slowly disappearing and we need to be aware about the slowly disappearing bird species and do the needful for its conservation,” said Nepali.

Considering the adverse impact of diclophenec on the vulture population, Drug Management Department had imposed a full ban on production, import and distribution of the drug about 14 years ago.

Flouting the ban can led to up to three years’ prison sentence or 25,000 rupees fine, or both. So far, a total of 72 districts, including Panchthar and Taplejung have been declared diclophenec-free.

Some nine species of vulture are found in Nepal, according to the authorities. Conservationists have expressed their concern about the declining number of vultures even after all the positive initiatives.