Conservationists elated with thriving population of critically endangered White-rumped vultureMore than 300 nests of various vulture species—at least 75 of White-rumped kind—were found in Province 5 in the last fiscal year.
At least 75 nests of the critically endangered White-rumped vulture, locally known as Dangar Gidda, were spotted in Kapilvastu district in the last fiscal year, according to conservation officials at Bird Conservation Nepal.
The scavenging bird species were found nesting in various community and leasehold forests of Banganga and Buddhabhumi municipalities.
According to Krishna Prasad Bhusal, a vulture conservation official, various vulture species made 309 nests across the districts of Province 5, a major vulture habitat in the country, in the fiscal year 2018-19.
“We spotted 75 nests of the White-rumped vulture in Kapilvastu, 83 in Dang, 45 in Rupandehi, 24 in Palpa and 22 in Arghakhanchi,” Bhusal said.
Similarly, 60 nests of Red-headed vulture (Sun Giddha), Himalayan Griffon, Egyptian Vulture (Seto Giddha), Slender-billed vulture (Sano Khairo Giddha) and Lammergeier were discovered in Province 5.
“It’s an encouraging news for conservationists to find such large numbers of White-rumped vulture’s nests in Kapilvastu and Dang,” said Som GC, an ornithologist, who added that the population of the critically endangered species is gradually increasing in the country in recent years.
According to him, about 60 to 70 percent of vulture pairs that laid eggs were successful in nursing their fledglings. “To conserve these vultures, we have to protect their habitats,” he said.
The White-rumped vulture is the smallest among the nine vulture species found in Nepal. Its population dwindled during the 1990s. Several researches found that the use of Diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory drug used in treating livestock, was one of the main reasons behind the dwindling population. Studies have found that vultures feeding on carcasses of livestock treated with the drug suffer kidney failure and die within a few days.
The population of the White-rumped vulture has been gradually increasing after the government banned the production, sale and use of the drug in 2006.
According to vulture conservation official Bhusal, there were around 150 nests of the White-rumped vulture across the country in 2010. This number rose to 397 by 2019. The estimated number of the White-rumped vulture is 2,000 across the country.
Conservationists say vultures are helpful in containing outbreaks of cholera, rabies, plague, anthrax and other diseases, as they feed on putrid carcasses that could spread pathogens.
“Vultures are not only natural cleaners, they are also crucial in maintaining the food chain balance,” said GC.
People living near vulture habitats now understand the importance of vultures to their surroundings, and are therefore aware of the need for their conservation.
“Vultures were considered as a bad omen in the past. But now we all know that these birds play a very important role in nature balance,” said Udaya Bahadur Tharu, a villager who lives near Rajapani Community Forest in Kapilvastu.
Generally, vultures build nests in tall trees like Sal and Simal. Some species also nest in high cliffs. Conservationist Ishwori Prasad Chaudhary said that these birds lay their eggs between the last week of December and the first week of January.
“Vulture eggs begin hatching from mid-February,” said Chaudhary.
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