India’s conservation efforts in recent times are evident on many fronts. Recently it was reported that river Ganga is witnessing an increase in biodiversity. India’s accomplishment in saving tigers is another recent success saga. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched Project Dolphin on this year’s Independence Day which has global significance. Now, India has come up with a five year plan to increase vulture population and launched Action Plan for Vulture Conservation 2020-25.
Just 0.4-0.7% of animal caracasses contaminated with Diclofenac was sufficient to decimate 99% of vulture populations. Due to dedicated conservation efforts, vulture population is stabilizing. Happy to note that @moefcc has launched a holistic Action plan for Vulture conservation pic.twitter.com/O4IBUMVNwU
— Prakash Javadekar (@PrakashJavdekar) November 16, 2020
In the 90s, vulture population in India saw a drastic decline, upto about 90% in many species. Since 2006, conservation efforts have been put in place and there has been a progress in arresting the trend of decline. Now, the plan for 2020-25 is aimed at further increasing the population of vultures.
Diclofenac – The Villain
In India, vultures died after consuming dead cattle, which were given ‘diclofenac’ drug, and their population reduced from four crore to less than four lakh. Earlier, India moved towards containing the use of Diclofenac.
Why Vultures are Important?
Because of the simple reason that they are natural scavengers. By eating dead animals, they keep the environment clean. The carcass left to decompose itself can spread many diseases in the surroundings.
What is Proposed in Vulture Conservation?
The red-headed and Egyptian vultures are the endangered varieties in India. Now the ministry has initiated breeding programmes for both.
The action plan aims to carry forth what has already been set in motion by ensuring that sale of veterinary NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) is regulated and livestock are treated only by qualified veterinarians.
The plan urges that the Drugs Controller General of India must institute a system that automatically removes a drug from veterinary use if it is found to be toxic to vultures. Such a system would ensure that drugs other than diclofenac that are toxic to vultures like aceclofenac and ketoprofen are banned for veterinary use.
Additional Conservation Breeding Centres are also being planned across the country, one each in Uttar Pradesh, Tripura, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Four rescue centres have been proposed for different geographical areas like Pinjore in the north, Bhopal in central India, Guwahati in Northeast and Hyderabad in Southern India.
The plan proposes for at least one vulture safe zone in each State for the conservation of the remnant populations in that State. These safe zones will be created for ensuring low prevalence of toxic NSAIDs in an area of 100 km radius from the vulture colony through targeted advocacy and awareness programmes and community participation.
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