Vulture restaurants instrumental in conserving threatened bird


Tulsipur (Dang), March 11

Vultures, considered natural environmental cleaners with a crucial role in preventing diseases like cholera and diarrhoea, face a severe threat to their population. Nepal, home to nine vulture species, is experiencing a decline in their numbers, according to the Vulture Conservation Campaign Network.

The operation of vulture restaurants has been instrumental in preserving vulture populations, with seven such establishments operating in the country. Despite their positive impact, these restaurants encounter numerous challenges to sustainability.

Bhupal Nepali, project officer at Bird Conservation Nepal, said there are two vulture restaurants in Dang and one each in Ghachok (Pokhara), Gaidatal (Rupandehi), Nawalparasi East, Kailali, and Koshi Tappu. The high operational costs of these restaurants, involving feeding adult cattle and hiring caretakers, pose a significant challenge for the operation of such facilities.

The use of the anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac in treating animals is a major concern for vulture conservation. Studies indicate that the consumption of carcasses containing diclofenac residues leads to kidney failure in vultures, contributing to their rapid decline.

Officer Dhanishwor Neupane, at the Lumbini Province Forest Ministry, identified encroachment on natural habitats, feeder shortages, and human-constructed electric fences as additional threats to vultures. The Ministry is taking steps to conserve tall trees and ensure safe food for animals, but collaborative efforts are essential for achieving conservation goals.

It is noted that the Lumbini Province government has allocated Rs 32.8 million for the conservation of vultures and other endangered flora and fauna. Nepal is home to over 13,000 vultures of nine species—White-rumped, Red-headed vulture, Eurasian griffon, Long-billed griffon, Himali griffon, Bearded vulture, Cinerous vulture, and Indian vulture — and has witnessed a 91 per cent decline in vulture populations over the past decade.

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