A synchronized vulture survey will begin from February 24 in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka
White-tailed and long-tailed vultures were spotted during the last bird survey at Sigur in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve Conservation Zone. Photo credit: Sathyamurthy M
The Kerala Forest and Wildlife Department along with the states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka is gearing up to conduct the first ever integrated vulture survey on February 24, 25 and 26 in selected areas of the Western Ghats.
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Synchronization is required
Dinesh Kumar, Additional Deputy Conservator, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, said, “Every year forest departments in three states conduct separate surveys at different times to estimate the number of vultures remaining in South India. But this often resulted in a double count of birds because the surveys were conducted at different times, he said.
But in a tripartite coordination meeting held at Tamil Nadu’s Mudumalai Tiger Reserve two weeks ago, it was decided to conduct a first-ever coordinated vulture survey in the Western Ghats to avoid double hunting.
The survey will be conducted simultaneously in three forest divisions including Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and southern and northern forest divisions. The Wayanad landscape will be divided into 10 places where bird species are frequently found. Each location is monitored by a five-member committee that includes a vulture expert; A forest beat officer, one or two volunteers and a forest guard, he said.
Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary
Areas adjacent to the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Nagerhole and Bandipur tiger reserves in Karnataka and Mudumalai in Tamil Nadu are the only areas in the state where vultures thrive. About 120-150 white-tailed eagles and less than 25 red-headed eagles live in the sanctuary. Occasional sightings of long-beaked eagles have also been reported in the sanctuary.
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Eagles suffered catastrophic population declines in the 2000s after species were exposed to diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory drug used in livestock as a pain reliever. At the end of the nineties, there were about 40 million white-tailed eagles in South Asia. But the population has dwindled to less than 10,000.
The reason the people of Wayanad survived was because they were never exposed to drugs.