The number of vultures has almost doubled at the Panna tiger reserve where the annual vulture census concluded on Sunday.
While the vulture numbers of resident species have increased from 676 last year to 1,268 this year, the number of migratory species has increased from 211 last year to 289 this year. However, certain species of vulture, such as Eqyptian and Red Headed, have recorded a drastic decline.
The overall increase in numbers is mainly due to escalation of population of the Long Billed variety.
The 6th edition of the annual vulture census was held between February 5 and 8 at Panna tiger reserve. This year too, the census was held on the public-private partnership (PPP) model with 68 participants from 12 states across the country being part of it.
For the first time, a standard operation procedure (SOP) was worked out for enumeration and was adopted at each counting site. The census covered the core area of the park, especially the Dhundwa gorge and areas in the buffer zone as well.
The resident vulture species covered in the census include Long billed, Red headed, Egyptian and White Backed while the migratory species include Eurasian Griffon, Himalayan Griffon and Cinerous. During the census, the participants also identified 17 Perigrine falcon.
The first vulture census was held at Panna in 2010. The Panna tiger reserve provides a very good habitat for various vulture species. The census was thought of after the vulture population witnessed a crash in the late 1990s, mainly attributed to use of diclofenac.
“Skill upgrading by introduction of a standard operating procedure in the census has given the process more accuracy and is mainly responsible for the increase in numbers,” said field director of Panna tiger reserve R Sriniwas Murthy. He added that while the decline in population of certain species was a cause for concern, the increase in numbers of other species was a good sign.