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Thursday, 19 May 2016

Vulture population on the rise in Madhya Pradesh


INDORE: Vulture census by state forest department for a second time this year shows quantum leap in its population. At least 7,000 vultures were counted last Saturday, particularly in Panna, Neemuch and Mandsaur districts, which is 100 more than the last count held in January, 2016.


However, the census registered a decline in the city. The number of vulture decreased to 176 from 250. "The vultures move from one place to another in groups. With the temperature increasing, they might have migrated to other places, where availability of food and water is more," said Shahbaz Ahmad, assistant principle chief conservator of forest (wildlife), Bhopal.


The largest vulture population was spotted in Panna district, where 793 vultures were spotted. Mandsaur stood at second position with 681 while 283 vultures were found in Neemuch. While the scavenger birds were spotted at 153 sites in Mandsaur region, they resided in 25 sites in Neemuch. The entire region that comes under forest department of Ujjain registered 974 vultures at 179 sites. In January, 958 vultures were spotted in this counting zone.


Assistant principle chief conservator of forest, Ujjain, PC Dubey said that Gandhi Sagar sanctuary has the largest population of vultures. "Local people raise a lot of cattle in this area. When they die, they leave the carcasses in the forest, which act as food for the scavengers. Carnivorous animals like leopard also kill some animals. Their left-overs also act as food for the species," explained Dubey.


Experts said that although the number showed a little increase in the region, it is significant as in last census, the migratory birds were also included. "The migratory birds have gone back and the numbers include only the resident species," Dubey said.


Vultures lay eggs in winter season; experts said that the census conducted on Saturday also includes the juvenile vultures. "The number might have gone up as some of the juvenile vultures were too small to be spotted. They might have been missed during the last counting," said Ajay Gadikar, ornithologist.


In Madhya Pradesh, seven species of vultures are found, out of which three are migratory. In the last census, all seven species of vultures were spotted in the region. As the migratory birds have gone back, four species of vultures were spotted on Saturday.


The forest department had given training to officials for proper counting of vultures. The counting was done in the morning when the vultures are either found in their nests or in their roosting area. To minimize errors, only those vultures that were found sitting were counted. The number of counting sites was also increased this time. Ahmad said a state wise counting of vultures has not been done in any state in the country so far.

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