September 10, 2009 4:48:15 am
Ten years ago,high points in cities across India were dotted with the distinctive silhouette of vultures. They arent any more. That these years have seen a three-fold decrease in Indias vulture population should be a massive worry. News of recent sightings of the Indian white-rumped vulture,however,is an indication that steps towards conservation could aid in the birds re-emergence. But ornithologists warn that the sighting should be followed by quick and decisive action for the flocks to get bigger. History has provided precedents of declining bird populations and catastrophic results: the North American pigeon,which migrated in flocks so vast they darkened the sky,went extinct in a mere 40 years.
More often than not,the unfortunate response to the declining vulture population is based on the vultures aesthetics. It may not look too appetising,and thus the cause isnt the sexiest,an unfortunate hurdle that conservationists have to face. For instance,many countries look upon the eagle as their national symbol; when the prospect of a proud,soaring eagle seemed threatened ruthless conservation campaigns were sponsored. But the vulture suffers the stigma of being a scavenger,something unlikely to lend itself to good marketing.
The presence of vultures is one of the primary indicators of a healthy ecosystem. Further,vultures have traditionally,and correctly,been regarded as natures cleaners through the prevention of diseases from infected carcasses. Specialists warn that epidemiological diseases inevitably follow a substantial decline in the population. Given that the veterinary medicine diclofenac has been identified as one of the primary causes behind the deaths of vultures valid questions arise as to why it is still in circulation. It has been banned by the Centre; but without a campaign for the vultures,convincing others to get more involved,the outcome may be catastrophic.
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