After the growth in the number of tigers here,Pilibhit forest now appears to be a safe habitat for another critically endangered species,the vulture,whose population has increased to 77 in May 2013,from 56 in December 2011,according to a recent census.
The census was done by the Forest Department of Uttar Pradesh and the maximum population of vultures sighted was of three types the long-billed vulture,the white-backed vulture and the slender-billed vulture.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildife) Rupak De said the increase in population is the outcome of restrictions on the use of veterinary drug diclofenac.
He said after the population of vultures decreased in the state,many NGOs like Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) also worked in spreading the awareness among farmers about ill effects of the use of diclofenac on vultures. He said the increase in Pilibhit is encouraging but they are yet to get the figures from other forest divisions.
The RSPB,BNHS and Tarai Natural Conservation Society have been running campaigns to stop the use of diclofenac in the areas along the India-Nepal border,which is considered to be a natural habitat of vultures.
Pilibhit Divisional Forest Officer A K Singh said most of the vultures were sighted in Barahi,Lagga Bagha and Haripur areas of the forest. He said the ban on diclofenac could be a contributor to the increase in the vultures population but providing safe habitat to them outside jungles is still a concern.
The vultures found in Pilibhit forest feed on the dead forest animals who are unaffected by any drug,but the survival of these vultures outside the jungles is still to be tested, Singh said.
The vultures are categorised as critically endangered on the list of International Union for Conservation of Nature. They are also protected under Schedule-1 of the Wildlife Protection Act.