Vulture Conservation in South Asia
Vultures play an important role in maintaining a clean environment. In fact, vultures are the primary consumers of carrion in both Asia and Africa, with an individual Gyps vulture consuming around 1 kg. of tissue every three days (Mundy et al., 1992).
Four species of vultures, namely White-rumped Vulture, Slender-billed Vulture, Red-headed Vulture and Indian Vulture are in grave danger of extinction across the Indian subcontinent. Between 1995 and 2011, monitoring of vulture populations in lowland Nepal revealed declines of 91% and 96% for White-rumped Vulture and Slender-billed Vulture, respectively (Chaudhary et al., 2012). Due to similar declines elsewhere in South Asia in 1990s, these four vulture species were up listed by IUCN as “Critically Endangered” (IUCN, 2015).
The cause of these declines has been shown to be the veterinary drug diclofenac, which is widely used to treat livestock in Asia. All species of Gyps vultures tested so far are highly sensitive to diclofenac (Oaks et al., 2004; Swan et al., 2006a, Das et al., 2010). In 2006 Nepal, India and Pakistan banned the production, importation, sale and use of veterinary diclofenac.
In order to halt the decline of Gyps vultures in Asia, Vulture Safe Zones are in the process of creation across Nepal for in situ conservation of vultures. Captive breeding centres have been established across South Asia to protect vultures in the short-term until diclofenac can be removed from the environment and replaces with meloxicam a vulture safe alternative. Further to this extensive surveys have been carried to search for and monitor nesting sites of all three endangered Gyps vulture species. Also safe feeding sites for vultures have been established closer to various potential breeding colonies to provide safe food for vultures.
Established in 1982, Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN) is the leading organization in Nepal, focusing on conservation of birds, their habitats and sites. It seeks to promote interest in birds among the general public, encourage research on birds, and identify major threats to birds’ continued survival. BCN has undertaken vulture conservation as a flagship species conservation programme.
Number of Grants: Two
Nature of Grant: The Jatayu Research grant will support masters’ students who are undertaking research as partial fulfillment of their degree. This will primarily cover literature review, field expenses, communications and printing costs. Expenses for participation in trainings/conferences, equipment purchase will not be supported. Besides direct funding, a team of experts from BCN (and international) will be on hand for technical backstopping of your research work. Scholarship winners will also be invited to relevant trainings organized by BCN and its partner organizations.
Who Can Apply?
All Nepalese Masters level students studying second year at Nepalese universities who are undertaking their research as partial fulfillment of their degree.
Preference will be given to students conducting research on vulture biology and their habitat, however, students working on other topics (exploratory research of new vulture sites, drugs toxicity to vultures, threats to vultures, ecotourism, socio-economics & sustainability of vulture safe zones etc.) are also welcomed.
What do you need to submit?
You need to submit a brief bio data and a short proposal (maximum 4 pages, Times New Roman font size 12 and normal page margins). Proposal should include background, objectives, methodology, budget and work plan of intended project. Plagiarism in proposal will lead to automatic disqualification.
Where to apply?
Bird Conservation Nepal
PO BOX 12465, Lazimpat, Kathmandu
Application Deadline: 10 September 2018
Note: Only relevant enquiries will be entertained. BCN reserves the right to accept or reject any application. Any form of solicitation will lead to direct disqualification.