Thursday October 24, 2019
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India To Release 8 Endangered White-Backed Vultures In The Wild

Prior to this release, two captive Himalayan griffon vultures were released in the wild.

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Vultures
This will help understanding their behaviour and survival instincts in the wild. Flickr

Eight captive-reared critically endangered white-backed vultures are set to take wings early next year for the first time in India since the vulture conservation centre near here was set up in September 2001.

The Jatayu Conservation Breeding Centre on the edge of the Bir Shikargaha Wildlife Sanctuary is a joint project of Haryana and the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) with the British government’s Darwin Initiative for the Survival of Species Fund to investigate the massive decline of three critically endangered Gyps species of vultures in India.

Six captive-bred vultures and two rescued from the wild will be tagged with a 30-gram device for satellite telemetry each with a battery backup of three-four years and this will help understanding their behaviour and survival instincts in the wild, BNHS Principal Scientist Vibha Prakash told IANS here.

 

He said the vultures would be released most probably by March-April next year in the Bir Shikargaha sanctuary where the BNHS is working to declare it as vulture safe zone, which extends transboundary into Himachal Pradesh where the wildlife awareness among the villagers is quite high.

 

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These birds have been shifted to the pre-release aviary for over a year and a half. Flickr

 

“If any of the released vulture die or get injured, we can recover them. Satellite telemetry will help us to know the cause of death and prevent other vultures dying from that cause.”

The satellite tags will also be useful in discovering whether the captive-bred birds behave normally in the wild with other closely-related species.

In the first event of its kind in South Asia, the government of Nepal and national and international conservation organisations released critically endangered white-backed vultures in the wild on November 9, 2017.

 

India is home to nine species of vultures. Three of these species, the white-backed, long-billed and slender-billed vultures, underwent catastrophic population declines of greater than 90 per cent in the mid-1990s. The birds are now listed as critically endangered.

 

The vulture, nature’s scavenger, cleans the environment of animal carcasses. Villagers rely on them to dispose of cattle carcasses.

 

Vultures
Indian Vulture (Gyps indicus) at Orchha, Madhya Pradesh, India, March 2018. Flickr

 

The reason, say biologists, for bringing the vultures to the brink of extinction in South Asia mainly to the extensive use of diclofenac in treating cattle.Vultures that consumed the carcass of animals treated with diclofenac died with symptoms of kidney failure. The Indian government banned its veterinary use in 2006.

BNHS scientist Prakash said “if there is no toxicity-related death of these eight birds in two years, then we will go for release of 20-25 birds each year”.

“We are planning to introduce 100 pairs each of the three species of white-backed, long-billed and slender-billed in the wild in the next 10 years. Before that, findings from the first proposed release batch will be crucial in the future programmes.”

The long-billed and slender-billed vultures will be released in Madhya Pradesh and Assam, respectively.

Officials admit the flight to freedom of these endangered vultures is still caught in red-tapism in the Haryana Forest Department, which has been authorised to procure 10 platform terminal transmitters or satellite telemetries through global bidding.

 

Vultures
The satellite tags will also be useful in discovering whether the captive-bred birds behave normally in the wild. Flickr

 

“These birds have been shifted to the pre-release aviary for over a year and a half. Twice their release was postponed last year. The only hurdle is the procurement of satellite telemetries and that too is bogged down by bureaucratic delays,” an official, requesting anonymity, told IANS.

“The birds are now two to four years old and this is the best age group for their release. The delay in their release will definitely delay the vulture reintroduction programme,” he added.

Prior to this release, two captive Himalayan griffon vultures were released in the wild in June 2016 from the Pinjore centre on an experimental basis.

Both birds were wing-tagged and leg-ringed for identification, but not tagged with satellite transmitters.

Vultures
Himalayan Griffon Vulture. Flickr

It was part of Asia’s first Gyps Vulture Reintroduction Programme under which the captive-bred birds were to be introduced in the wild.

The team managed to monitor one released bird for a day before it disappeared, while the second bird was tracked for almost a month and never sighted again.

Also Read: ‘The Last Animals’ Sheds Light on Rhino, Elephant Extinction

The Pinjore centre, Asia’s first centre of its kind, houses 289 Gyps species vultures; 198 of them bred at the facility that is funded by the central government.

Two such conservation and breeding centres are in Rani in Assam and Rajabhatkhawa in West Bengal. (IANS)

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Mean Fixed Broadband Download Speed in India Rises to 16.5%

Availability of 4G continues to improve in India as the country's mobile providers are trying to provide consistent coverage across the country

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India is the leader in mean fixed Broadband download speed amongst other neighbouring countries, with Bangladesh at 24.02 Mbps and Pakistan with flat speeds between 8.54 and 9.14 Mbps. Pixabay

Mean fixed broadband download speeds in India have risen by 16.5 per cent during the second quarter (Q2) and third quarter (Q3) of 2019 and topped 34.07 Mbps in September while country-wide Internet speeds were expected to increase, US-based broadband speed tester Ookla said on Wednesday.

“With Reliance Jio’s rollout of its new GigaFiber service in India in early September, we will likely continue to see countrywide speeds increase,” the company said in a statement.

According to the Ookla’s report, which examined the recent trends in Indian telecom market during the last two quarters, India is the leader in mean fixed broadband download speed amongst other neighbouring countries, with Bangladesh at 24.02 Mbps and Pakistan with flat speeds between 8.54 and 9.14 Mbps.

Availability of 4G continues to improve in India as the country’s mobile providers are trying to provide consistent coverage across the country.

This availability is the percentage of an operator’s known locations where a device has access to LTE service (including roaming).

India’s 4G Availability was relatively high at 87.9 per cent across providers during Q2-Q3 2019, which means that Speedtest users had access to LTE service at 87.9 per cent of surveyed locations.

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Mean fixed Broadband download speeds in India have risen by 16.5 per cent during the second quarter (Q2) and third quarter (Q3) of 2019 and topped 34.07 Mbps in September. Pixabay

The 4G availability was 58.9 per cent in Pakistan and 58.7 per cent in Bangladesh during the same period.

Ookla looked at fixed and mobile download speeds in the 15 largest cities in India during 2019, Q2-Q3 and found out that Chennai had the fastest mean download speed over fixed broadband (51.07 Mbps), followed by Bengaluru (42.50 Mbps) and Hyderabad (41.68 Mbps).

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The slowest download speeds on our list were measured in Nagpur (20.10 Mbps), followed by Pune (22.78 Mbps) and Kanpur (23.20 Mbps). (IANS)