Monday, July 18, 2011

Connexions Resource Center Focuses on NATURE


India’s Vanishing Vultures

By: Meera Subramanian

The above photo is taken from: Munir Virani and was found on google.com

This article is just one of the many literary pieces about nature that is available on connexions.org. Subramanian describes the physicality, characteristics, and humanity's relation to the bird in a negative light. It isn't as though a vulture is the type of animal one can snuggle up to, or look at with admiration and awe; but rather they are: "[...] voracious scavengers [...] viewed with disgust and associated with death—and we, instinctually, look away". Due to this relation between humans and vultures it is said that it came as a surprise when they began to become extinct. People hadn't noticed the birds absence in the sky.

In the proceeding paragraph, however, we get a glimpse of why vultures are so important in relation to Indian culture, "vultures were a natural and efficient disposal system". According to their religious beliefs, most Indians do not handle death regardless of it's human or animal, and so it was more than convenient that these vultures were cleaning up areas such as the countryside, and road kill.

This article is a documentation of this crisis, “I saw a lot of empty nests, and when I started looking, there were dead birds everywhere—under the bushes and hanging from the trees, dead in the nests,” Prakash told me later. “I was quite worried.” By 1999, not one pair remained. BNHS put out an alert, and biologists from all over the country confirmed that the three dominant species of South Asian vultures—slender-billed (Gyps tenuerostris), white-backed (Gyps bengalensis), and long-billed (Gyps indicus)—were dying across the region". Vultures contribution to the natural Eco-system of India was the cause of why this extinction erupted concerns.

The reason for such a high vulture death rate was that, "the three species of Gyps vultures were dying from ingesting livestock carcasses treated with diclofenac, a mild painkiller akin to aspirin or ibuprofen".This wasn't discovered until a later date, and is spoken about in great detail in this article. It took the Indian government at least two years after this announcement and proof to ban the diclofenac. It is currently still being sold under the table, and under a different name to this day in situations where there are a large number of live stock.

The most concerning fear now is that, "[...] with vultures gone, and the human handling of dead livestock increasing, that these diseases could spread among both animal and human populations". In order to prevent a complete extinction there is a newly developed vulture conservation breeding center north of Delhi, and so near Pinjore.

If you are interested, and want to read a more in depth account of this story from begin inning to end you should @ Sources online. It is a story that will tug on your heart strings if you love the environment and animal rights.

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