DECLINING OF VULTURES (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Env & Eco)

News-CRUX-10     4th September 2023        

Context: On the International Day for Vulture Awareness, it is time to reflect on India’s journey in vulture conservation and the strides that have been made since 2000, while also acknowledging the challenges that lie ahead.

Key Points

  • The recent ban on aceclofenac and ketoprofen, both harmful to vultures, has provided a glimmer of hope, but there is still much work to be done.
  • India’s vulture populations started plummeting in the 1990s due to the widespread use of diclofenac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), in veterinary medicine. 
  • When vultures fed on the carcasses of animals treated with diclofenac, they experienced kidney failure, leading to their rapid decline. 
  • Populations of some vulture species have decreased by over 99 percent, pushing these birds to the brink of extinction.
  • Electrocution from power lines, which have become increasingly prevalent across the country, poses a grave danger to these birds.

Vultures Species in India

  • India, home to nine species of vultures, has been at the forefront of conservation efforts. Most of these 9 species face dangers of extinction.
  • Bearded, Long-billed, Slender-billed, Oriental white-backed are protected in the Schedule-1 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. Rest are protected under ‘Schedule IV’.
  • CITES: Appendix II
  • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I
  • UCN status: Critically Endangered
  • Conservation Initiatives: National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has approved an Action Plan for Vulture Conservation 2020-2025.
  • In 2001, a Vulture Care Centre (VCC) was established in Pinjore, Haryana, India, with the purpose of investigating the reasons behind vulture deaths. 
  • In 2004, the VCC underwent enhancements and transformation, becoming India's inaugural Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centre (VCBC).