KATHMANDU, Sept 1: The Fourth International Vulture day was marked in the country today. Vultures are ecologically important birds that face a range of threats and listed as critically endangered bird species.
Every year first Saturday of September is celebrated as vulture day. Various programs were organized in different parts of the country to increase awareness on vulture conservation.
Vulture population is rapidly dwindling since 1990s in South Asia. The Oriental White-rumped vulture has declined by 99.9 per cent in India over a period of 15 years. ‘Scientific studies carried out since 2002 show a decline of 91 per cent for this species in Nepal’, said Khadananda Paudel, Vulture Conservation Officer of Bird Conservation Nepal.
It has been scientifically proven that the major cause of decline is the use of veterinary drug ‘diclofenac’. “Vultures die when they feed on animal carcass contaminated with this drug,” Paudel added.
The government in 2009 had launched vulture action plan (2009-2013) to focus on conservation of the endangered bird species but has not been able to do more due to inadequate amount of budget needed to boost the conservation efforts.
“It’s very hard to allocate adequate budget on specific species by the government itself but in last few years we have received significant support from the international community to conserve the threatened species and are working as per action plan,” said Dr. Maheshwor Dhakal, Ecologist, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC).
Experts claim that four out of nine species of vultures found in Nepal are under the threat of disappearance. “We established the first community-managed vulture restaurant in the world and have supported this work by swapping remaining diclofenac stocks in the area with meloxicam, awareness campaigns has resulted the increase in vulture number,” said Dr.Hum Bahadur Gurung, Chief Executive Officer, BCN.
The Ornithologists say that it is very difficult to bring back the threatened species to safer position as there is a wide range of challenges. “It’s not an easy task to bring back the important bird species to its state before 1990 but definitely the conservation efforts applied in last few years have brought some hope to the conservationists,” said Dr.Hem Sagar Baral, senior ornithologist at Nature Himalaya.