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Critically endangered Asian king vultures sighted in Sigur plateau

The sighting of a pair of critically endangered Asian king vultures and a juvenile within the Sigur plateau is a trigger for optimism that the species could also be re-establishing itself within the area, consultants say.

The inhabitants of the Asian king vulture, like most vulture species in India, has crashed over the past 5 a long time.

The Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR), encompassing each the Sigur plateau and the Moyar valley, is believed to be residence to 12-14 people. Since analysis started round a decade in the past, not a single nesting web site of the species has been discovered within the MTR.

A. Samson, a analysis biologist from the Bombay Natural History Society who has been finding out vultures inhabiting the Sigur plateau and the Moyar valley for the final decade, mentioned the Asian king vulture, also called the red-headed vulture, was once seen throughout Tamil Nadu, proper as much as Kanniyakumari, until 50 years in the past.

“Despite extensive searches over the last decade in the MTR, not a single nesting site of the species has been discovered,” he mentioned.

The photos of the three vultures — two adults and a juvenile — had been captured on two separate days by lawyer M. Santhanaraman on a go to to the realm lately. He instructed The Hindu that the report hinted at the potential for a nesting web site close by.

“If nesting sites are identified, any step to ensure the conservation of the area can be taken,” he mentioned.

“One approach we might help bolster the inhabitants of vultures is by guaranteeing that the Kedarhalla stream, which, through the drought years, goes bone dry, is maintained as a perennial stream. During the drought that hit the district in 2016, many bushes that the vultures rely on for nesting, just like the Terminalia arjuna, died. If the streams are made perennial by guaranteeing a imply circulate all year long, the vulture nesting websites utilizing the panorama may be protected,” Mr. Santhanaraman mentioned.

B. Ramakrishnan, Assistant Professor on the Department of Zoology and Wildlife Biology on the Government Arts College, Udhagamandalam, mentioned the sighting of a juvenile Asian king vulture was an indication that the inhabitants is likely to be rising.

“This particular species of vulture only feeds on fresh carcasses, and is known for tracking tigers so that it can feed off its kills,” he mentioned.

He added that the rise within the variety of tigers within the buffer zone of the reserve might result in availability of extra meals for the vultures, thus serving to the species re-establish itself within the area.

Bharathidasan, secretary of Arulagam, an NGO engaged on vulture conservation, feels it’s too untimely to make any conclusion from this one-off sighting.

Boosting the numbers

“As the population of these vultures is so low, a single poisoning event could wipe out the entire species. Hence, we need to think of establishing captive breeding centres and other means to boost the number of red-headed vultures in the region,” he mentioned.

“Other means to help the species — establishing feeding stations and captive breeding of the vultures and eventual release — could also help,” mentioned T. Murugavel, mission coordinator for the Environment Monitoring and Action Initiating.

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