Vulture chick born in captivity survives for the first time

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Pinjore (Haryana), Mar 31 : The Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centre in Haryana have achieved a rare feat with a chick surviving for over 55 days after its parents nested in captivity.

According to the State Forest and Environment Ministry, it is the world's first to survive that long after being born to vultures who nested in captivity.

Vibhu Prakash, Principal scientist and in-charge, Breeding Programme India, said that it is just a small step to protect the endangered species. They are planning further for increasing the population of vultures in India.

The nestling is doing well in captivity and is being fed on a diet of goat meat. It is expected that the nestling will become a fledgling in over 100 days.

"We are trying to breed 25 pairs of each of three species which is white-backed vulture, long-billed vulture and slender-billed vultures. And most of these vultures that we have are 2-4 years old. It will take another 2-3 years before most of them to become adult and then start breeding. And once they start breeding we will keep their nestlings for two years and then we will start release program," Prakash added.

Prakash believes that such efforts will help in raising a sustainable population of the bird specie.

As per reports, 99 per cent of the country's vulture population has vanished mainly because of consuming cow carcasses treated with an anti-inflammatory drug Diclofenac Sodium, whose manufacture was banned in 2006.

Undisposed animal carcasses will further endanger the vulture population that is virtually under threat of extinction.

Birds eating the carcass of an animal that had died shortly after treatment with the drug suffered kidney damage, increased serum uric acid concentrations, visceral gout and death.

The drug was introduced in India in 1995 and the government banned it this year, but the ban has not yet been implemented in many parts of the country.

The successful raising of this baby vulture has renewed hope for saving the endangered specie.

The Vulture Breeding Centre at Pinjore was set up in 2001 as the Vulture Care Centre with funding from the UK's Darwin's Initiative for Survival of Species fund.

Vultures find a place in Schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, the country's only legal framework to protect endangered species, which prohibits hunting and trafficking of endangered species.

Conservationists around the world have also called upon the Indian Government to intensify a captive breeding programme for the threatened species.

ANI

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