CEESP News - by Dr Hishmi Jamil Husain, Head Environment & Forest Management, Tata Steel Limited
Vultures are a critical part of the food chain. By removing dead meat, they maintain a balanced ecosystem and prevent the spread of disease. The dramatic crash in the Indian vulture population is directly linked to animal husbandry practices, namely, the use of pain killer - diclofenac to treat cattle. This pain killer poisons the vultures when they feed on the carcasses of cattle. Today, almost 99% of the vulture population in India has disappeared. On the first Saturday in September, every year people and organisations celebrate International Vulture Awareness Day.
This year, on September 2, 2017, Tata Steel Zoological Park at Jamshedpur, India celebrated International Vulture Awareness Day with school children. The objective of the programme was to create awareness among the school children about the importance of vultures for a balanced ecosystem. More than 100 school children from various schools of Jamshedpur attended the programme.
A short film on vulture awareness was also screened on the occasion. During the awareness session students were told about reason of vulture death. They were also told about complete ban on veterinary use of diclofenac, identification of a vulture safe drug and establishment of Vulture Conservation Breeding Programme to save vultures from imminent extinction.
The State Forest Department of Jharkhand has established the second Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre in Eastern India and the first in the state (23 KM from Ranchi at Muta near Ormanjhi). Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) is working to bring 50 Vultures from Jatayu Conservation Breeding Centre, Pinjore, Haryana.
For an article that sets this story of the dramatic decline of vultures in India into a global context, read this article from the October 2017 issue of Pacific Standard: Tragedy of the Common: The extinction crisis extends far beyond rare and endangered species.