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Forest dept tags four white-rumped vultures to monitor their declining population

From 347 in February 2019, the population of the long-billed and white-backed vultures dropped to 249 in March 2021, the survey found

white-rumped vulture, vulture, NGO, Society of Eco-Endangered Species Conservation and Protection, Seescap, Critically Endangered, IUCN Red List, wildlifeFour tagged chicks of the white-rumped vultures were found abandoned. (Express Photo)

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.”

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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.

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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.

First published on: 28-10-2021 at 06:28 IST
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