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Friday, October 23, 2020

8 white-backed vultures set to be released in wilderness today

The eight vultures had been kept in the pre-release enclosure at Jatayu Conservation and Breeding Centre (JCBC) at Jodhpur village near Pinjore since 2018. Platform transmitter terminals (PTT) will be attached with each raptor to track down their locations and behaviour in the wilderness.

Written by Saurabh Prashar | Chandigarh | October 8, 2020 12:12:51 pm
White-backed vultures, Morni hills, HaryanaWhite-backed vultures spotted at Morni hills. Express Photo: Jaipal Singh

The Haryana Forest and Wildlife department is all set to release on Thursday eight white-backed vultures attaching platform transmitter terminals (PTT) with each raptor to track down their locations and behaviour in the wilderness.

These eight vultures had been kept in the pre-release enclosure at Jatayu Conservation and Breeding Centre (JCBC) at Jodhpur village near Pinjore since 2018.

The centre is situated inside Bir Shikargah Wildlife Sanctuary. Natural History Society (BNHS) has been running the centre in collaboration with Haryana since 2004. Eight vultures included both the genders and six out of eight are in the age group of six-seven years. Two vultures are in the age group of 10 years.

The Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF), Haryana, Dr Amarinder Kaur, said, “In 2016, a pair of Himalyan Griffon Vulture was released but without PTT. We were not able to track down their locations for a long time. This time, as PTTs have been attached with vultures, we are confident to get better understanding and results about the raptors.”

Vibhu Prakash, principal scientist, BNHS, and head of JCBC, said, “Six vultures out of eight were hatched inside the breeding centre through the artificial incubation. Two vultures were rescued and brought to the centre from Gujarat. We believed the two vultures, which were nourished in the centre, will work as the guides for six others in the wilderness. We are attaching PTTs with these raptors to track down their locations. Vultures prefer to roam in a radius of 100 km depending on the availability of food, which is primarily the carcasses of dead animals. PTT is available to track down the location of gyps throughout the South-Asian countries. In 2018, eight vultures were pre-released.”

JCBC was established near Pinjore in 2004. Since then, the centre has successfully released its one pair of Himalayan Griffon vulture in 2016 and the soft-release of eight oriental white-backed vultures was scheduled for 2020. Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF), wildlife, Alok Verma, said, “Before releasing the vultures, we made necessary arrangements for the survival of these gyps in the wilderness. To ensure these raptors’ safe survival, we made adequate arrangements to ban the diclofenac in the surrounding states, including Himachal, Punjab and Haryana.”

State Forest Minister Kanwar Pal will release the eight vultures. Vultures were listed as critically endangered species by IUCN. In 1980s, vulture population in the country was estimated to be in lakhs but by 1990s, 99 per cent decline was reported in the number of these three species, including white-backed vultures. Two other species are long-billed vulture and slender-billed vulture.

In 2017, the Union Department of Telecommunication declined to give permission for attaching PTT with the raptors citing security reasons. Later, they agreed. Between 2004-2019, 43 slender-billed, 115 oriental white-backed and 175 long-billed vultures were successfully hatched and fledged at the JCBC.

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