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BNHS Initiates Vulture Safe Zones: A Milestone in Vulture Conservation Efforts

by In-house Editor

Introduction:

In a significant leap forward for vulture conservation, the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) is pioneering the establishment of Vulture Safe Zones (VSZs) in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Assam. Additionally, Vulture Release Zones (VRZs) are being introduced as part of this initiative. This groundbreaking project aims to provide a safe haven for wild vultures, addressing the alarming decline in the population of Gyps species, including the white-rumped vulture, Indian vulture, and slender-billed vulture during the mid-1990s across the Indian subcontinent.

Background:

The population crash of Gyps species was attributed to various factors, with one significant threat being the consumption of carcasses treated with Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). To combat this issue, the BNHS, in collaboration with the Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB), has been managing four Vulture Conservation Breeding Centres (VCBC) in Pinjore (Haryana), Rajabhatkhawa (West Bengal), Rani (Assam), and Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh).

Objectives of VSZs and VRZs:

The VSZs and VRZs have a twofold mission: to provide NSAID-free food for wild vultures and to ensure safe landscapes for the release of captive-bred vultures. Research indicates that vultures feeding on cattle treated with NSAIDs are at a high risk of mortality, making it imperative to create zones where vultures can feed without this threat.

Success of Tiger Reserves and Its Connection:

Drawing inspiration from the success of India’s tiger reserves (TRs) over the last two decades, BNHS emphasizes the need for similar strategies in vulture conservation. Tiger reserves, having achieved significant success, have contributed to an increase in the tiger population. Notably, successful relocation of villages around TRs has led to vast areas becoming free from human intervention and livestock, creating NSAID-free zones beneficial for wild prey and, subsequently, vultures.

Conclusion:

The establishment of Vulture Safe Zones and Release Zones marks a pivotal moment in vulture conservation efforts led by BNHS. By addressing the critical issue of NSAID contamination in vulture habitats, this initiative aims to reverse the decline in Gyps species populations. The success of this project will not only contribute to the revival of vulture populations but also set a precedent for comprehensive conservation strategies that balance human activities with wildlife preservation. It stands as a testament to the dedication of organizations like BNHS in safeguarding India’s rich biodiversity for future generations.

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