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Increasing Vultures’ Population In Rajaji  

Indian Masterminds Stories

India is home to nine species of vultures. However, in the past few years their population has declined up to 90% for few species. Due to this it has been listed as Critically Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List since 2002. This is an alarming situation specially because vultures are important for human beings in so many ways. They eat dead animal carcasses and are particularly effective at removing pathogens & toxins in the environment thus playing crucial role in cycling of nutrients and keeping the eco-system. 

While the situation of vultures in the country has become dangerous, the Rajaji National Park in Uttarakhand is showing some positive signs. In the past few months, number of some species – White-rumped vultures and King-Vultures, has almost doubled. The Director of Rajaji National Park Dr. Saket Badola with his team is taking few steps to improve the habitat of vultures and making the park a safe nest for vultures to reside & breed.

PROTECTING THE HABITATS 

Rajaji has always been a prime habitat of many species of vultures. Some visit the park during migration while there are many who nests there. Since the nesting has declined up to 90% the team of foresters is focusing on protecting habitats and nesting sights of vultures. 

Dr. Saket Badola (IFS),

Dr. Badola says, “Vultures mainly depends on carcass of naturally killed animals. Humans often take away freshly killed animal’s carcass for meat or other use. We are improving the protection regime so there is no theft of kill thus creating a good feeding round for vultures in the park. This also support their habitat here.”

RADIO AND SATELLITE TAPPING 

Rajaji National Park in collaboration with WWF (World Wildlife Fund) has also started a research project for predatory birds also called as raptors. It includes vultures too. The research is basically a three-step program which include habitat improving activities, mapping the sites where vultures visit and radio or satellite tapping of them to know their movement & resource utilization pattern in the park. 

Has it increased their numbers? In many years, there has been no census of vultures in the park so it is difficult to tell the numbers. “To find that out we have already started mapping those sites where vultures are frequently seen and then we will do a census. We are hopefully that all these activities will help in conservation of this species which is really important for our eco-system”, adds Dr. Badola. 


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