Gujarat forest dept satellite tags six vultures after centre launches vulture conservation plan

India is home nine species of vultures, eight of which are found in Gujarat.

The population of vultures has seen a steep slide in India since 1990s and with the aim of conservation of this winged scavenger species, the Sasan Wildlife Division in Junagadh has satellite-tagged six-vultures to study their ecology and gain knowledge about their migration pattern. The satellite tagging measure is a part of Central government‘s Action Plan for Vulture Conservation, 2020-2025, launched November 12.

According to a release from the Deputy Conservator of Forest, Mohan Ram the wildlife authorities have tagged three long-billed, on the king and two white-rumped vultures at Sasan wildlife Division in Junagadh district of Gujarat. The satellite tags put around the vultures are powered by solar photovoltaic cells.

According to the forest official, the satellite tagging will help them learn in-depth about the average height at which they fly, their feeding sites, roosting and breeding patterns and migration routes. The tagging of the vultures were done after discussion with experts and as per their guidance.

India is home nine kids of vultures, eight of which are found in Gujarat. While Eurasian griffon and Himalayan griffon are migratory vulture species that give occasional visits; long-billed, on the king and two white-rumped vultures and Egyptian vultures are resident species in the state.

Gujarat have witnessed a sharp decline in vulture population from 2,647 in 2005 to 820 in 2020, a book by Gujarat forest department states. The white-rumped vulture species were lost the most a 99.9 per cent closely following other vultures at 95%, the release said. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed these vulture species as ‘critically endangered’ or ‘threatened’ in India and hence needs urgent attention. The satellite telemetry will help to understand the vultures and what is responsible for their loss better.

The crash in the vulture population found attention in 2004 and diclofenac — a veterinary nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug was established to be the reason in their decline in numbers. The DCGI than banned the veterinary use of diclofenac the same year.

Mahuva region of Bhavnagar is home to 45% of white-rumped vultures where the population has remained stable since 2012. The long-billed vultures are mostly found in Saurashtra region, the release said.

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