In what seems to be a healthy sign of vulture population in the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve (NBR), a couple of King Vulture or Red-headed Vulture (Sarcogyps calvus) was spotted in Coimbatore forest division.
The vulture couple was spotted near Zero Point on the banks of the backwater area of Bhavani Sagar reservoir at Pethikuttai of Sirumugai range. According to Forest Department officials, this is the first time King Vultures are spotted in Coimbatore forest division.
The birds were spotted and photographed by Nidhyan Maniarasu R., Assistant Executive Engineer of Public Works Department, during a visit to Pethikuttai last week.
“I went to Zero Point region in the evening hoping to spot Greater Spotted Eagle. But to my surprise, two adult King Vultures were found feeding on the carcass of a spotted deer. The vultures remained on the carcass for almost an hour since I spotted,” said Mr. Maniarasu.
Identifying the vulture couple, P. Pramod, principal scientist with Aniakatty-based Sali Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History said that sighting was a “good sign of King Vulture population”.
According to S. Ramasubramanian, Conservator of Forests, Coimbatore Circle, King Vulture is superior to other vulture species in terms of sense of vision.
“The Forest Department has been doing various measures to protect vultures in NBR due to which their population has not declined like in other parts of the country,” he added.
Moyar Valley of NBR is home for four vultures namely King Vulture, White-backed Vulture, Long Billed vulture and Egyptian Vulture.
Despite creating special teams for the monitoring of the vultures, banning of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug Diclofenac contributed a lot to the conservation of vultures. Studies had proved that indiscriminate use of Diclofenac as a painkiller for cattle put vulture population at risk. To ensure sufficient food for vultures in Moyar Valley, the Forest Department used to leave carcasses of large animals such as elephants open in the forests.
“Now, an alternative drug named Meloxicam is used instead of Diclofenac,” said Mr. Ramasubramanian.
S. Bharathidasan of Arulagam, an NGO involved in the conservation of vultures, said that sighting of King Vulture was highly possible as it takes hardly 20 minutes of flight for the birds to fly down to the spot from Moyar Valley.
Source: The Hindu