AS THE State Forest Department is giving priority to conservation of Sarus, the move to conserve vulture has taken a beak seat.
Realising the need to save the vulture, as it plays an important role to protect environment, the Forest Department had submitted a project to the Union Government.
However, it could not pursue the Centre to sanction the project. The department was occupied with the Saifai airstrip during the same period last year.
The Supreme Court constituted Central Empowered Committee (CEC) that had sought guarantee for conserving Sarus. It was done to save Sarus because the development of airstrip would have endangered this species of bird in this region.
As a result, the CEC sought from the State Government an affidavit that would ensure the conservation of Sarus by forming the Sarus Conservation Society with a corpus fund of Rs 5 crore. The society has a representation of the government, NGOs and experts.
“For the last eight months, the department was occupied with getting clearance from the CEC for developing the airstrip,” said a senior officer. “Therefore, there was no time for us to pursue the vulture project that has been pending with the Union Government. The vulture conservation project was to be taken up in association with the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS),” he added.
One of the senior officers of the Forest Department clearly stated that as of now, the project was shelved.
BNHS director Asad R Rahmani, during his recent visit of the city, felt the need for conservation of vultures. In his lecture, he had stated that the time had come to save vulture. It should be done following the Union Government’s decision to ban the vulture killer anti-inflammatory drug, Diclofenac, he said.
Earlier, it was thought that the vultures were dying of some viral disease, but in May 2003 it was found in Pakistan that Diclofenac was causing the death of vultures. Quoting vulture experts, Dr Rahmani said 95-99 per cent of three Gyps species are already dead. “Vulture is the only species of bird that is declining very fast in the Indian subcontinent,” he stated.