Critically endangered vulture species sighted

MAHADEVPUR, Nov 1: A small group of the critically endangered white-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis) – six in flight and two perched – was sighted here in Namsai district by a research team from Rajiv Gandhi University.
The team comprising Abprez T Kimsing, Jacob Ngukir, Talo Biju and Dr Daniel Mize noted that the sighting of the vultures proved that “the habitat condition of the area is still suitable for the species.”
The team surveyed for four days before it had encounters with the white-rumped vultures from the area.
“Secondary information suggested the presence of other species of vultures in the area, as they were seldom observed in the recent past,” the team informed.
The survey conducted in Mahadevpur area was part of a long-term vulture population monitoring project in Arunachal Pradesh.
The white-rumped vultures prefer a habitat with open vegetation, warm climatic condition and lowlands as most of the earlier sightings were below 1200 m elevation throughout its distribution regions.
The particular species is listed as critically endangered in the IUCN’s red list due to its rapid population decline. The global population of the white-rumped vulture is estimated to be approximately 2,500-9,999 mature individuals in the wild, the team informed.
“Considering the declining population of white-rumped vulture over the globe and shrinking distribution range, such a sighting is significant information for their conservation and management,” it said. “Such sighting will offer bird enthusiasts and conservationists opportunity to plan for in-situ conservation of the bird and to understand more about the ecological aspect for conservation intervention.”
The team also interviewed locals, who informed that the vulture population is decreasing in the area as sighting is very rare in the present time, and that their groups usually consist of small numbers unlike earlier reports.
“This decline in the population in the area seems to be due to gradual degradation of habitats, less availability of food due to low wild population and less popularity of rearing livestock in present time and shifting to more suitable habitat,” the team said.
The team members educated the locals that use of the banned drug, diclofenac, and logging of big trees are the main reasons for decline in the vulture population.
They appealed to the locals not to use the banned drug or log large trees, especially the Bombax ceiba, in order to conserve the vultures.