• IASbaba
  • October 11, 2022
  • 0
Environment & Ecology
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In News: A study by University of York in the UK, tracked 26 African white-backed vultures fitted with GPS tags for four years over southern Tanzania.

African white-blacked vultures:

  • It is the most common vulture species in the continent of Africa.
  • The birds travelled long distances, with one bird visiting eight countries in southern Africa like Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa and Namibia.
  • Vultures mostly forage early in the day outside Protected Areas (PAs).
  • They avoid areas with high livestock density while feeding and did not use cattle as a main food source.
  • If threats such as poison-laced carcasses are removed from these places, the decline in vulture populations can be stemmed.
  • IUCN status: Critically Endangered

Indian Vultures:

  • These are native to India, Pakistan and Nepal.
  • The Indian vulture is medium-sized and bulky, they are slow breeders that live long.
  • Its wings are broad and its tail feathers are short. Its head and neck are almost bald, and its bill is rather long.
  • Vultures in India also forage mostly out of protected areas. They travel long distances every day while foraging for food.
  • However, Indian Vultures feed on livestock.
  • Due to this, a drastic crash in vulture populations is seen in India due to the use of diclofenac in veterinary treatment, mainly on cattle.
  • IUCN status: Critically Endangered


  • Population decline
  • Captive-breeding programs
  • Widespread use of drugs such as diclofenac
  • Rotting of carcasses formerly eaten by vultures causing collapse of animal disposal system
  • Diseases from rotting carcasses like rabies, anthrax.

Conservation Efforts in India:

  • Identification and removal of threats near the nesting and roosting sites, making food and water available to them is what needs to be done.
  • Understanding their habitat use and their behaviour.
  • Vulture Recovery Plan – banning the veterinary use of diclofenac, finding its substitute and set up conservation breeding centres for vultures.
  • Action Plan for Vulture Conservation 2020-2025
  • PIL filed in Delhi High Court about not banning nimesulide, aceclofenac and ketoprofen which are toxic to the vultures.
  • The Centre has formed a committee made up of members from the BNHS and Indian Veterinary Research Institute to formulate a release policy for vultures being bred at the centres.


  • Diclofenac is a common anti-inflammatory drug administered to livestock and is used to treat the symptoms of inflammation, fevers and/or pain associated with disease or wounds.
  • A genus of vultures called Gyps was the most affected by diclofenac.

Source: Down to Earth

Previous Year Question

Q.1) Vultures which used to be very common in Indian countryside some years ago are rarely seen nowadays. This is attributed to

  1. the destruction of their nesting sites by new invasive species
  2. a drug used by cattle owners for treating their diseased cattle
  3. scarcity of food available to them
  4. a widespread, persistent and fatal disease among them


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