Since 2017, 31 captive-reared and captive-bred White-rumped Vultures Gyps bengalensis have been released from Vulture Conservation and Breeding Center, Chitwan to wild in Jatayu Restaurant area of Pithauli, Kawasoti. These all birds were fitted with GPS telemetry tags, which allows us to monitor the movements and survival of these Critically Endangered birds. By following them, along with 30 wild birds also fitted with GPS tags, and investigating the cause of mortality of any vultures that die, we can ensure that diclofenac and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) no longer pose a threat. The good news so far is that, after more than two years, we have found no evidence that any tagged birds have succumbed to NSAID-poisoning. This is vitally important, as it enables us to confirm that the provisional Vulture Safe Zones are proving safe for vultures and will, in time, allow us to declare these areas as genuine VSZs – the first in the world, free of diclofenac and other harmful NSAIDs
Wild birds tend to range widely, frequently up to 200 km from the feeding site at Pithauli, to which they only occasionally return to take advantage of the food that is still provided twice a week. The record so far, however, is held by a bird that travelled about 1100 km from the release site, all the way to Jammu and Kashmir in India.
The released birds, on the other hand, have tended to remain far more local, only travelling a maximum of 6 km from the release and feeding site. However, as this year’s particularly bad winter has come to an end, some of the vultures have begun to undertake movements not previously seen by released birds. Nine of the birds have been seen to take journeys of over 20 km, with the furthest-ranging bird travelling 193 km from the release site (see Map). Two of the birds travelled across the border into India. The detail is in table below:-