IFAW-WTI releases three poisoned vultures after treatment
Kaziranga National Park- Assam, India: Three Himalayan Griffon vultures (Gyps himalayensis) rescued about a fortnight ago from Sivasagar district, Assam, were released today by the IFAW-WTI run Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC), following treatment for acute poisoning.
“The vultures were released in Kohora, Kaziranga National Park in the afternoon today. It was a pleasure to see them fly away quick and strong,” said Dr Phulmoni Gogoi, International Fund for Animal Welfare - Wildlife Trust of India veterinarian.
The released vultures were among 10 rescued, in two incidents that occurred in Dikhomukh village and Akhoiphutia Koch village in Upper Assam on April 28 and May 4 respectively. In both cases, the vultures were affected after consuming carcasses of dogs, poisoned by local people. The first case was a retaliatory attack against a rabid dog that had killed a goat belonging to a local family. Angered by the incident, the family members laced the goat carcass with pesticides. The vultures were affected after consuming meat from the contaminated carcasses of the goat and the dog.
21 endangered vultures succumbed to the poisoning in both incidents; 10 were rescued by the Assam forest department and the IFAW-WTI team.
Dr Anjan Talukdar, IFAW-WTI veterinarian, CWRC, recalls, “The vultures were in a pretty bad state when they were brought here. They showed acute symptoms of poisoning including drooping necks, extreme weakness and regurgitation. Nine of them responded well to our treatment.”
Six of the remaining vultures, three slender-billed vultures (Gyps tenuirostris) and three white-rumped vultures (Gyps bengalensis) both critically-endangered species have been transferred to the Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centre (VCBC) in Rani, Assam where they will be retained for breeding and conservation of these species.
“We could not revive one Griffon vulture,” rued Dr Gogoi. “Apart from poisoning, this individual also suffered from a dislocation of metatarsal bone and legions.”
Vulture populations in India declined drastically in the 1990s, due to widespread use of livestock drug ‘Diclofenac’ among other reasons. The drug used as analgesic and anti-inflammatory in livestock caused visceral gout and renal failure in vultures feeding on carcasses of animals treated with it before their death.
In addition to ‘Diclofenac’ (which continues to be used illegally in India for lack of awareness and a cheap alternative), vultures also fall victims to poisoning cases such as these in Assam. Over the years, IFAW-WTI has attended to about 40 vulture rescues across Assam; most suffered from poisoning.
This post was filed by Shibani Chaudhury, Head of Communications & Campaigns for the Wildlife Trust of India. For more information, please visit the WTI website.