Vultures, the critically endangered birds of prey have now got themselves four restaurants to choose from to have a meal that is tasteful and more importantly free from chemicals that are proving to be fatal for the birds. These new locations will provide safe meals to the birds every day.
For the past few years India and the rest of the world has been struggling with the use of diclofenac an anti-inflammatory drug used by humans and animals. This drug leads to renal failure in vulture. Although similar health problems have not been noticed in vultures in other parts of the world, Asian vultures have been badly affected by its use.
The chemical inadvertently reaches their system when they eat the carcasses of dead animals who had been treated with the drug. The past 20 years have proved tragic for the vultures because of this deadly drug that has wiped out 99.9 percent of the Asian vulture population.
In India the drug was banned in 2006 but farmers continue to use it to treat their livestock unaware of the graver dangers to the ecology and the birds.
The idea of vulture restaurants thus came up to tackle the issue in a different manner. The chosen locations will have diclofenac-free meat provided to the vultures. The four chosen locations are one in Maharashtra state and 3 in Punjab.
“We buy the carcasses—of anything from dead buffaloes, cows and bulls to other animals—from villagers and place them on bricked platforms with boundary walls at these restaurants,” said Punjab wildlife ranger Ramesh Chander.
The locations have been chosen in such a way that they provide the birds a safe place to eat as well as live and breed. They are also close to fresh water sources, giving the birds ample food and water.
To be completely sure of the carcasses provided by local butchers, the forest officials will run test on them to ensure that no harmful chemicals are present in them. They are also buying these carcasses at a rate three times more than the usual rate at which the carcasses are sold. It is all to ensure that the vultures get the best of the meal.
But some environment experts are still skeptical about the effort. Vultures are finally free and wild and they may easily roam to other locations to eat where the farmers are still using diclofenac. The whole purpose of the project might be then defeated.
According to Adesh Shivkar a bird expert, “The carcasses lying there may be free from diclofenac, but what if the vultures go and feed themselves somewhere else? The whole purpose of the project will be defeated.”
Vulture restaurants have been earlier set up in Pakistan, South Africa and Nepal and officials hope it will at least help in curbing the fast mortality rate of these areal scavengers.