Hyderabad, Nov 12 (UNI) The Nehru Zoological Park (NZP) here has taken up an ambitious project to conserve endangered storks and vultures, which are on the verge of extinction, with technical support from the premier Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB).
Under the Rs 15 lakh project, four enclosures were constructed to breed 'threatened' painted storks and white-necked storks, and endangered black-necked storks and open billed storks, Zoo director P Bhaskar Reddy told UNI.
Under the Rs 83 lakh action plan, which was being considered by the Central Zoo Authority, steps would be taken to conserve oriental white-backed and long-billed vultures belonging to the Telangana and Rayalaseema regions.
''We have already taken technical help from the CCMB to test the semen content and prepare the ground for breeding of endangered vultures'', he said. They had kept ready two pairs of the 'birds of prey' in a special enclosure in the Zoo for breeding during the ideal winter months.
Vultures lay eggs only once a year.
''It is not just the survival of the vultures that is at stake.
But the drastic drop in their numbers has had an adverse effect on the society, which traditionally relied on the birds as scavengers.
Rotting of animal carcasses with no birds to prey upon causes a serious health hazard'', he observes.
Under the proposed project, to be implemented in about five to six years, the Zoo would procure 25 pairs of white-backed and long-billed vultures for captive breeding and nurture them for three to four years.
During the breeding stage, the birds would be kept in 100 ft enclosure with provision to fly freely. They would be later released into the wild to scavange animal caracasses.
''The birds will be tied with a microchip and released into certain identified spots in the forests and their movement will be monitored remotely'', he added.
It may be noted that three species of vulture in South Asia oriental white-backed vultures, long-billed vultures and slender-billed vultlures mostly found in North-Eastern states have fallen by 97 per cent since the early 1990s.
It is largely due to usage of Diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory drug for cattle, which is harmless to them but fatal to the vultures which feed on carcasses, causing kidney and liver failure in birds.
On an appeal by conversationists, the Centre had banned the drug.
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