June, 2013- A team of conservationists from Bird
Conservation Nepal (BCN) recently completed annual road count survey of
vultures across Terai lowland following
east-west highway covering 638 km from Narayanghat in Chitawan to Gaddachowki
of Kanchanpur. The survey is supported by Department of National Parks and
Wildlife Conservation, Nepal and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
(RSPB), UK. The current survey observed 43 oriental white backed vultures which
was same number 43 last year. Around 205 vultures were observed in the first
survey in 2002 but the numbers had declined to 55 by 2009. Conservationists
today are claiming that the population of oriental white backed vulture has
stabilized in western Nepal since 2009. Recent publication on population trend
of vultures in Nepal show annual decline of 14%.
The survey was conducted during 6 May to 19 May 2013 ina vehicle driven at a rate of 20 Km/h. “This survey identifies and records all vultures sighted within 1000m of either side of the road. In addition to east-west highway, the team also surveyed the mountain routes of Attariya-Doti-Dadeldhura-Baitadi-Darchula, Lamahi-Tulsipur-Salyan-Rukum and Bhalubang-Pyuthan-Rolpa, Pyuthan-Arghakhanchi-Gulmi-Palpa.” -says Khadananda Paudel, Vulture Conservation Officer and the lead researcher.
‘Since the launch of the Vulture Conservation Action Plan by Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation in 2009, BCN has helped implement it across western Terai through community-based approach,’ explains Ishana Thapa, Senior Conservation Officer at Bird Conservation Nepal.
Bird Conservation Nepal has initiated an innovative approach to create Vulture Safe Zone in Nepal through community-based approaches since 2006. “In collaboration with local community, government agencies, NGOs and local stakeholders, Bird Conservation Nepal has declared 31 districts as Diclofenac Free Zone covering 56,718 square kilometers.” says Dr. Sushila C. Nepali, Chief Executive Officer at Bird Conservation Nepal.
South Asia’s vulture population has crashed dramatically since 1990s. Monitoring of vultures in Nepal till 2011 indicates 91% decline in vulture population says Dr. Maheshwor Dhakal, Ecologist at Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation. Five of the nine species of vultures found in Nepal are in danger of disappearing from the planet. Widespread veterinary use of diclofenac, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), is the main cause behind the decline. “A collaborative approach to stop completely the use of banned drug diclofenac is needed to conserve these critically endangered vultures”- adds Dr. Dhakal.