Vulture population rises in India
As per a recent report by the Bombay Natural History Society (BHNS) rapid decline in the number of critically endangered Indian vultures has stopped. India’s vulture population has risen for the first time in last 20 years, after a sharp decline in their numbers by more than 99%. Vulture numbers decreased in India from 4 crore in the early ’80s to less than 1 lakh in 2011.
Why Vulture numbers were fast declining in India?
- Diclofenac, a painkilling drug administered to cattle, is the main cause of mass extinction of vultures.
- Vultures, which have a digestive system robust enough to even digest disease-causing pathogens found in rotting meat of dead, do not have a critical enzyme that breaks down diclofenac and die of renal failure after eating carcasses of cattle administered the drug.
- Vultures feeding on cattle either die from acute kidney failure within a few days or lose their ability to reproduce.
‘Diclofenac’ is a painkilling drug administered to cattle.
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has put vultures on its list of ‘critically endangered’ species.
The three most common species of vultures and there approx. numbers in the India are:
- Long-billed vulture (Gyps indicus), also known as the Indian vulture (44,000)
- White-backed vulture (Gyps africanus) (11,000)
- Slender-billed vulture (Gyps tenuirostris) (1,000)