Thursday, March 17, 2011

Vulture colony in Zampodar village vanishes.

MAHUVA (BHAVNAGAR): An entire vulture colony at Zampodar village in Rajula taluka of Amreli district, which had been a roosting and nesting site for nearly 31 white rumped vultures, has gone missing for the past two months.
"We had earlier spotted 31 vultures, mostly white-rumped vultures, at Zampodar village in Rajula taluka. It was a traditional vulture colony. But, not a single vulture is found here since the past two months. It is unusual and shocking. We fear that it may have just vanished," said Ruchi Dave, vulture conservationist and honorary wildlife warden, Bhavnagar district.
"During the last survey, more than 81 vultures were spotted in the Mahuva-Nageshri range. Now, we need to find out the cause behind the disappearance (of the colony)," said Dave. Vultures are endangered species and falls under the schedule one category of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. "The forest department should appoint a monitoring committee to look into the matter and prepare a scientific status report about the missing vulture colony," she added.
Dave said the Mahuva-Nageshri and Rajula ranges on Saurashtra coast are a few of the last sites for vultures in the state where they roost and nest on coconut trees.
Wildlife activists fear that further negligence could lead to the complete disappearance to these birds. In fact, there is no regular monitoring mechanism for vultures by the forest department. "There are no measures in place to rescue and treat ill vultures and monitor vanishing ones. In 2006, 31 vultures were found dead. The same thing can happen again. Before things get worst, we need to act fast," Dave said.
Dave has been actively involved in vulture conservation and is a member of Bird Conservation Society-Gujarat (BCSG), which runs a feeding site for vultures at Asharana village.
However, the forest department is not aware of the entire episode. When contacted, J K Makwana, deputy conservator of forests, Amreli district, said, "We have come to know about it from local volunteers and we have asked the local forest department to look into the matter."
Sources said there are three major panjrapols (animal shelters) in the area - Rajula, Chhapariyali and Nalga - where vultures can be given animal carcasses to feed. "But, vultures do not land there for various reasons… so there is a need to develop a few more feeding sites," said Dave.
"Mostly, local voluntary groups are monitoring the vultures' activity with the help of the forest department. We have also asked local volunteers to submit a project plan to carry out the conservation work," said Bharat Pathak, director, GEER Foundation, which monitors vanishing vulture species.
Apart from missing the vulture colony, sources confirmed that six vultures have had died since January 2011.They include three white-rumped vultures in Mahuva-Rajula range and three long-billed vultures in Girnar. "As of now, we do not know the exact reasons for the death of these vultures but we have sent two samples for analysis at Pinjore Vulture Breeding Centre. We would be able to know the exact reason once the report arrives," said Dave. 


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