Long Billed Vulture has a narrow escape

September 5, 2013 | By wildlife@dmin

By Aishuwarya Sudarshan

Our rescue team in Agra received information from the Forest Department that a young Vulture was spotted with a wound on his wing. There was further reason for us to worry! An anonymous caller further said that the local villagers were superstitious about this bird being a bad omen for their village and may club him to death. We had no time to lose and our team rushed to the spot.

We believe that every vulture sighted is a good sign and certainly protecting every individual of the species is a conservation goal for India. We were so relieved to find the bird still unharmed and spent a good hour speaking to the local villagers why these scavenger birds are critically important for maintaining our ecological balance and why keeping them alive was a good thing.

Long Billed Vultures (Gyps Indicus) are listed as “critically endangered” and barely 7 % of the population is left today across India due to carcass poisoning by a veterinary drug used in cattle called Diclofenac.  The bio-accumulation effects of Diclofenac when used as an analgesic and anti – inflammatory drug for livestock has killed off almost the entire vulture population. Diclofenac is extremely toxic for the vultures who feed on the carcasses causing kidney failures and other severe side effects.

Our team brought the young vulture for treatment to the Agra Rescue Center where he was treated and awaited the papers which would allow us to relocate him to a vulture conservation center in the neighboring state of Haryana.

We would say, he was getting a LOT of attention! With a team of four vets to check on his wound and his droppings daily while our chef served him his meal twice a day. He is truly a magnificent bird with his wingspan spreading over a meter.

Vultures play a critical ecological role as they help by cleaning carcasses off roads, agricultural lands etc. At one point they were spread all over India but now they are limited to small pockets. The Government of India is setting up conservation breeding centers across India in collaboration with Haryana Forest Department (Read more) with the hope of reintroducing them in the wild again.

Our young vulture friend was released back into the wild a few days after he healed fully. He took off like a pro and soared high, turning one last time to say, thank you to the team that helped him get back on his wings!

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