Sunday, February 16, 2014

Resolutions Passed to Curb Mining, Quarrying, and Other Threats Near Vulture Habitats

An Indian vulture on a cliff.

It has recently been reported that a conference organized by the Ela Foundation and the Asian Raptor Research and Conservation Network (ARRCN) has passed resolutions concerning the vulture population in India. The solutions focused on the vultures' conservation by curbing mining, quarrying, and developmental and recreational activities near breeding sites. In addition, other solutions included identifying threats to vultures and other raptors from electrocution and enforcing safety measures, inspecting the negative effects of pesticides, banning the use of manja for kite flying, and the review of the conservation status of India's raptors. The conference, which was attended by 240 delegates from twenty countries, including Japan, India, Russia, the United Kingdom, and United States, focused at promoting raptor conservation and research by exchange of scientific knowledge, training researchers, and associating of member countries. According to Satish Pande, the organizing secretary of the conference, the study of raptors is crucial because they are apex predators and indicators of habitat quality. In addition to passing raptor conservation resolutions, the conference also consisted of two field visits where delegates were presented with conservation efforts of the Ela Foundation for the critically endangered Indian and white-rumped vultures with community participation. The delegates were also shown active breeding colonies of these vultures, along with other Indian raptor species.
Manja-making process with coating of cotton thread with mixture of glass powder, colors, etc. (top) and bottles of diclofenac (bottom). Both of these have contributed to the downfall in India's vulture population, along with other birds.

It is amazing to see what India is doing by joining forces with other countries, in order to help save its native raptor populations especially vultures. These birds of prey have suffered dramatically over several years in the hands of humans from electrocution to chemical poisoning from pesticides and diclofenac. In addition, the use of manja for kite flying is another factor that has tremendously affected southern Asia's bird populations. Ironically, manja has also claimed human lives as well. This is why it is absolutely crucial to take action against these threats, which not only affect vultures and other birds but people as well. Vultures and other raptors are well-known as indicators of habitat quality and apex predators. This means they play a crucial role in keeping populations of small animals in check, and their presence in a habitat indicates whether its quality is good or not. Vultures are favored as scavengers not just in India, but also in other parts of the world, and are known to feast on carcasses that are known to be major sources of deadly diseases such as anthrax and botulism. Without vultures, India would be in great risk of these diseases and it is absolutely necessary to guarantee the survival of these raptors through joint partnership to curb the factors that have decimated and continue to decimate their numbers.

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