To track the sightings and monitor migratory vultures, the state forest department along with a Mahad-based NGO Society of Eco-Endangered Species Conservation and Protection (Seescap) and Ela foundation have ringed/tagged four white-rumped (G bengalensis) vultures from the Konkan region.
This is the first such exercise conducted in the Konkan region. A recent survey by the forest department and Seescap had found a substantial decrease in the vulture population in Raigad district, one of their natural abodes in the state.
From 347 in February 2019, the population of the long-billed and white-backed vultures dropped to 249 in March 2021, the survey found. The white-rumped vulture has been listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2000, as the population severely declined.
Four tagged chicks of the white-rumped vultures were found abandoned and in a malnourished state last year. The chicks around 10 months old — two males and females — were treated in the office premises of the Shrivardhan Forest Department. A volunteer said, “When chicks reached an ideal weight of over 10 kg and were in the healthy state, post their treatment, the decision to release and tag them was taken.”
Each chick needs to be fed 300 to 400 gm of meat once a day. In addition, as the wingspan of these birds is 6-7 feet, they need cages of at least 20 feet square area.
The tagging of birds helps monitor them and enables birders to report a sighting with the help of the code number mentioned in the tag.
After a Eurasian Griffon Vulture — found in Tibet, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Mongolia and West China — was spotted in Maharashtra for the first time, the state forest department is also planning to put in place a monitoring protocol to keep track of such sightings.
The Eurasian Griffon Vulture was spotted in Satara district’s Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary in the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve in May. In India, it is mostly seen as a migratory bird in the Himalayas and the northern plains. It was sighted for the first time in the state.