Chandigarh November 13: Haryana Chief Minister Mr Manohar Lal today launched the Asia’s first ‘Gyps Vulture Reintroduction Programme’ by releasing 10 captive bred vultures in the pre-release aviaries close to the Jatayu Conservation Breeding Centre at Pinjore near here today.
The vultures were released as part of the soft release or reintroduction programme, in a pre-release aviary, where they would have an unobstructive view of the surrounding. This would help them in getting used to the habitat in which they would be released in the wild in future. At the Conservation Breeding Centre, they were kept in aviaries where they had little view of the habitat around.
Among the 10 vultures released in the pre-release aviaries by the Chief Minister , there were two Himalayan Griffons, which were brought as juveniles and as sick birds and have been in captivity for last ten years whereas, rest were all white-backed Vultures, of which six were hatched in captivity at the centre and are 2-3 years of age. The remaining two white-backed vultures were brought as rescued adult birds from the wild about ten years ago but have not bred so far.
All the vultures have dummy satellite transmitters put as a back pack but they will be replaced by putting the real transmitter at least a week before they would be released. It would be possible to track vultures with the satellite transmitters once they are released. Before the birds are released in the wild, it would be made sure that there is enough food, habitat and low prevalence of the drug diclofenac at least in the area of 100 km radius by targeted advocacy and awareness programme with various stake holders.
Later, while interacting with the media persons, the Chief Minister said that earlier, vultures were known as Jatayu. He said that it was for the first time that ten captive bred vultures have been released in the pre-release aviary so that they could play their role naturally. Decline in the number of Vulture during the past years is a major cause of concern, said the Chief Minister adding that Jatayu Conservation Breeding Centre being run by Haryana Wild Life Department and the Forest Department has been constantly working to increase their numbers by way of breeding and conservation.
When asked whether the vultures would play a significant role in the success of Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, the Chief Minister said that Vultures feed on the carcasses of dead animal before their bodies got decomposed thus prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and fungus. This way, they play a vital role in the successful implementation of Swacch Bharat Abhiyan as they keep our environment clean, he added.
In reply to another question, the Chief Minister described the conservation of Vulture is a world-wide phenomena and said that every country and State is concerned about the decreasing number of vulture. He said that it was a matter of concern that their number has decreased from four crore earlier to only one lakh. He said that the State government would make efforts to increase the number of vultures by providing maximum resources and conducive environment.
Asked about the reasons behind the decreasing number of Vultures, he said that Diclofenac, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug which is given to cattle in inflammation and pain is extremely toxic to vultures. The vultures get exposed to the drug when they feed on the carcasses of an animal which died within 75 hours of the administration of the drug. Though the drug was banned by Government of India for veterinary use in 2006 but the vultures continued to die, though at a slower rate, because of the misuse of multi-dose vials of diclofenac for human formulations. But now, the multi-dose vials for human use were banned by the Drug Controller General of India on the July 17, 2015 and directed that only vials of 3 ML could be used for human consumption instead of 30 ML earlier. He said that the State government would enforce these orders in the State and added that this would certainly bring down the prevalence of the drug in cattle carcasses and the environment would be safe for vultures.
Earlier, the Chief Minister also saw a detailed presentation on the Conservation and Breeding of Vultures.
Principal Chief Conservator Forests, Dr Amarinder Kaur informed the Chief Minister that these vultures would be fed close to the netting in the front of the aviary on un-skinned diclofenac free carcasses. She said that just outside the aviary the wild vultures would also be attracted by regularly providing animal carcasses as food. Once the captive bred and wild birds start interacting, the netting of the aviary would be lifted from one end and the birds would have a choice of going out or be within the aviary. She said that the captive breds would gradually mix with the wild birds and start moving around but would come back near the aviary as food would be continued to be provided for a long period of time. The idea is to keep birds close to the breeding centre till they get acclimatized to the life in the wild, she further added.
Haryana Forest and Public Works (Building and Roads) Minister Rao Narbir Singh, MLA Kalka Mrs Latika Sharma, Principal Secretary, Forest Mr Amit Jha, Commissioner of Police Ambala-Panchkula Mr O.P Singh, Deputy Commissioner Panchkula Mr Vivek Atray, OSD to Chief Minister Capt. Bhupinder Singh and other senior officers of Forest Department and District Administration were also present on this occasion.