U.P. readies world’s 1st conservation centre for Asian King vultures - Hindustan Times

U.P. readies world’s 1st conservation centre for Asian King vultures

By, Maharaganj
Jun 24, 2024 06:16 PM IST

Uttar Pradesh to open world's first Asian king vulture conservation and breeding centre in Maharajganj to save critically endangered species.

Uttar Pradesh will soon have the world’s first conservation and breeding centre for Asian king vulture in Maharajganj. The facility aims to improve the population of the species, which has been listed as critically endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list since 2007.

The aviary where vultures are kept for monitoring (HT)
The aviary where vultures are kept for monitoring (HT)

“This is the world’s first centre for breeding and conservation of Asian king vulture, also called red-headed vulture. It is now ready for formal inauguration,” said SK Sharma, the principal chief conservator of forest and the head of Uttar Pradesh’s forest force, on Monday.

“At the moment, we have a pair of male and female vultures. Three more females, which are in the aviary, will gradually get their male counterparts. The aviary is 20-feet by 30-feet,” said Dr Durgesh Nandan, the scientific officer at the centre.

The centre is named Jatayu Conservation and Breeding Centre, where 24x7 monitoring of the vultures is being done. Among its staff include a scientific officer and a biologist. “They (vulture) make one partner in their entire life and lay one egg in a year. Hence, their monitoring is our highest priority,” said Dr Nandan.

Asian king vultures are endangered due to a loss of their habitats and the excessive use of diclofenac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, in domestic animals, which becomes poisonous for vultures, say experts.

The birds at the centre are fed twice a week and each has a diet of around three kilo meat at a time. The centre aims to ensure good health of growing vultures, provide them with a pair. Once a female lays egg, the pair will be left free in their natural environment.

“We are ensuring that their natural environment is replicated here so that when the birds are left in forests, they do not face any trouble,” said Nandan. Only the keeper is allowed entry into the enclosure, which is under strict CCTV monitoring.

In Uttar Pradesh, the red-headed vultures are rarely seen. In 2023, they were spotted in Chitrakoot. The first vulture brought to this centre was on December 30, 2022. Later, another was brought. After two males, the centre also plans to get two female vultures too.

Other vulture conservation and breeding centres in the country have long-billed and white-backed vultures, said officials.

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