Group of 15 vultures sighted in Tripura

RSTV Bureau

A group of about 15 vultures, a dwindling species, were recently sighted in Kalyanpur area of Khowai district, a top forest official said on Friday.

Chief Wildlife Warden of Tripura, A K Gupta said that We have seen a group of about 15 vultures in Kalyanpur area recently. It is a matter of joy for any animal lover. The vulture is dwindling very fast in the country as well as in the world due to loss of habitat and food crisis.

Concerned over the drastic decline in vulture population in Tripura, the forest department has decided to start captive breeding of the scavenger bird at the Sipahijala Wildlife Sanctuary.

A K Gupta said that There are only 55 vultures in the state which came to light following a survey by the department. So, we have decided on captive breeding to conserve the bird.

Of the 55 vultures, 27 were sighted in Khowai district, 26 in South Tripura district and only two in Sipahijala Wildlife Sanctuary in Sipahijala district, according to the survey carried out by Gupta at 107 areas in 16 sub-divisions of the state.

Among the nine species of vultures in the country, white-rumped vultures found in Tripura were identified as critically endangered by environmentalists, Gupta said.

The Bombay Natural History Society and Zoological Survey of India would tie up with the forest department for the project once Tripura is declared a Diclofenac-free state.

A survey commissioned by the governments of Gujarat and Maharashtra in 2001 found that vultures died after feeding on the carcasses of animals given Diclofena in their diet. In Tripura, though animals were not widely fed Diclofena, vultures still disappeared.

Ajit Bhowmik, Conservator of Forest and former director of Sipajijala Zoo said, “The calamitous reduction in the number of vultures is a dangerous development.”

He said that the Vultures are scavengers which consume all dead beings but never spread germs. In their absence, the carcasses will be consumed by dogs, crows or other animals and birds, all of which will spread deadly germs, viruses and bacteria.

An ornithologist, Prasenjit Biswas, who wrote book, ‘The Last Flight of the Vulture’ said, not a single vulture was sighted anywhere in the state between 1998 to 2006.

Quoting a report compiled by the Bombay Nature History Society, Bhowmik said in the early eighties of the last century, India had a total vulture population of 20 million, but by 2009, their population dipped to less than one per cent of that figure.

Large flocks used to be sighted on the small islands of the 42 sq km Dumbur lake and its immediate environs in Gomati district as a large number of animal carcasses were available there at one point of time.