India's Vulture Numbers Down From Millions to Thousands in Two Decades

India's Vulture Numbers Down From Millions to Thousands in Two Decades
India's Vulture Numbers Down From Millions to Thousands in Two Decades

This year, September 1 was observed as the "Vulture Awareness Day" across the globe. In India, the population number of vulture species has fallen by over 95% in less than two decades.

The first Saturday of September every year is observed as "Vulture Awareness Day" to bring attention to the plight of these majestic creatures that deserve nothing but the highest level of conservation efforts by both the government and citizens, timesnownews.com reported.

Vultures, a species which once dominated Indian skies in millions have now fallen victim to the abyss of endangerment. Despite efforts by activists and wildlife conservationists, the population of two out of three species of vultures found in India, have reportedly plummeted by 97% and 99% respectively between 1992 and 2007.

A 1999 report by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) that is spearheading the movement for vulture protection put the number of vultures across protected areas in India at over 40 million.

These included the three species of vultures primarily found in India, the long-billed Gyps indicus, the slender-billed G-tenuirostris and the white-rumped G Bengalensis.

According to a 2015 report, from millions in 1999, the population of long-billed Gyps indicus currently stands at 20,000 while that of the white-rumped G Bengalensis stands at 6,000. However, the slender-billed G-tenuirostris remains to be the rarest of all vulture species in India numbering a mere 1,000.

A leading authority on vultures, Dr Vibhu Prakash of the BNHS says the new best estimate of population size for all three species is much lower than previously thought.

"These numbers are alarmingly low," he told BirdLifeInternational in December of 2017.

At present, we have four vulture breeding facilities in India at Rani in Guwahati (Assam), Pinjore in Haryana, Buxa in West Bengal and Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh.

Even as their population numbers continue to dwindle from millions to thousands in less than two decades, the need to protect nature's "manual scavengers" is more at this day and age than it has ever been in the past.


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