IFAW-WTI releases three poisoned vultures after treatment

Vultures under treatment at CWRC. Photo - Mahi Puri, WTI 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.”

Vultures being released in Kohora, Kaziranga National Park, Assam. Photo - Dr Phulmoni Gogoi, WTI 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.

Comments: 1

 
Anonymous
4 years ago

Dhartee Development Society, a non-government organization, in collaboration with the UNDP Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme has taken initiative to save worldwide threatened Vulture species in Sindh, Pakistan. In this regard, the DDS has launched a unique Vulture Restaurant project near Nangar Parkar, the only natural habitat found recently, and providing meat to birds. Trained staff with veterinary parishioners has been hired to take care of nests and breeding of the bird.
The DDS team is proud to have taken this step as the birds, which few years back were looking in groups in many areas, have almost wiped out due to use of Diclofenac drugs on livestock. However, the DDS people have planned to convince the community, motivating them not to use banned drugs on their livestock and do not disturb the birds at nests.
According to a fresh survey conducted by DDS, there are scattered vulture nests in the tall trees in the desert outside the Nangar Parkar town. Two species white backed vultures and long billed vultures are in the same area, coming under the project. After the positive campaign the community is cooperating with the team members. These birds not only lay eggs at nests at tall trees but they also have similar nests at sandy mountains and in bushes. Now there are few chicks under the conservation process, getting feed properly.
We have also received some reports of presence of vultures near Deeplo, also in Thar Desert . Therefore, we have a future plan to expand the project to conserve the birds in the entire neighbourhood to have a sufficient stock.
It is also pertinent note that few months back the unaware town municipal administration had launched a drive to kill stray dogs in the neighbourhood and dumped animals openly at sand dunes. In result vultures living there came and ate the dead animals and died instantly. This loss created a panic among the wildlife conservationists and now the UNDP had awarded a project to the DDS to conserve the bird.
We are very careful while purchasing animals to feed the birds. Because, we know that several animals are vaccinated and may cause kidney failure and ultimate death of the vulture. We have a veterinary doctor at the post, who gets the history of animal before buying, whether it is vaccinated or not. We prefer to buy animals from the areas, where farmers usually avoid vaccinating their cattle and goats and utilize traditional methodology of treatment.
We have planned to accommodate meat and its natural feed there and arrange breeding so that sufficient stock of the bird can be preserved in the country.
In fact it is a great task the DDS has taken but the organization needs more
resources to expand its activities to save the vulture and other wildlife species in the neighbourhood. This is an appeal to all the wildlife conservationists to extend their helping hand to DDS team so that we can achieve goal.
Yours Sincerely
Mansoor Dahri
Executive Director

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