Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
The crash in the population of vultures, nature’s scavengers, in India from estimated four crore in the early 1980s to less than a lakh by 2007 is unprecedented in the animal world.
To save them from certain extinction, the government of India’s Action Plan for Vulture Conservation in India — 2020-2025, which was recently presented to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) secretariat, advocates the prevention of misuse of veterinary non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) by ensuring their sale only on prescription.
This would ensure that the banned drugs are not used in veterinary treatment, says the Foreword by Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar in the report. The vulture conservation plan with an outlay of Rs 207.50 crore, part of the Gandhinagar Declaration adopted by CMS Parties in 2020, also strongly recommends the veterinary treatment should be given only by qualified veterinarians that would prevent overuse of NSAIDs in treating livestock as toxicity of most of the drugs is dose dependent.
Also, the scientific manner of disposal of livestock carcasses will ensure that the vultures do not get exposed to the carcasses of animals that died during treatment. This should be done as soon as possible, says the five-year plan.
CMS, the only United Nations treaty that addresses migratory species and their habitats, provides an international legal framework for collaborative conservation across borders. Hailing the vulture action plan, a spokesperson for CMS told IANS that India presented a report on conservation initiatives during the first year of its COP (Conference of Parties) presidency.
The comprehensive plan, which the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is implementing with its two crucial counterparts, Health and Family Welfare; and Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, aims for conservation breeding programme of vultures by establishing more centres in different parts of the country. Interestingly, two other species — the red-headed vulture and the Egyptian vulture — are also included in the breeding programme.
Please Follow NewsGram on Facebook To Get Latest Updates!
The 118-page plan takes cognizance of the causes of mortality other than veterinary drug poisoning of vulture food. The poisoning of dead domestic animals by the owners to kill a rogue predator often is a problem for vultures in some parts of the country. Though it is not as serious a problem as poisoning of food by veterinary painkiller, which is far more widespread, it still needs attention, says the action plan quoting Union Minister of State for Environment Babul Supriyo.
Secretary Environment R.P. Gupta believes the banning of vulture toxic drugs is cumbersome and time consuming. So, it is better to be judicious in using the drugs and make the environment safe for the vultures. The action plan admits the Vulture Safe Zone programme has been initiated for conservation of remnant vulture population.
However, work on establishing Vulture Safe Zones has not started in all states and requires a lot more urgency. Vultures were very common in India till the 1980’s. During this period, the populations of the three resident Gyps species — the oriental white-backed, the long-billed and the slender-billed — in the country was estimated at 40 million individuals.
The overall population however crashed by over 90 per cent during the mid-90’s. By 2007, 99 per cent of the three species had been wiped out. These three species are now listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN, the highest threat category ahead of extinction.
In 2004, the cause of their crash was established as diclofenac, a veterinary drug. When the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are administered to cattle, and if the cow or buffalo dies within a few days and is consumed by vultures, it causes gout, kidney failure and death in the following days.
Subsequently, the Drug Controller General of India in 2006 banned the veterinary use of diclofenac. In 2015, it also restricted the vial size of the human formulation of diclofenac to prevent its misuse in treating cattle. Besides prevention of poisoning of the principal food of vultures, the cattle carcasses, with veterinary non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, the Action Plan for Vulture Conservation 2020-2025 proposes to establish additional conservation breeding centres in the country.
At present, there are eight centres in the country. While the primary focus of these centres is breeding of vultures, they also serve as vulture conservation centres. For example, the in-situ conservation efforts are coordinated by the biologists based at the centres. The samples and information collected from the wild is analyzed and stored at these centres.
Given that the centres have well-equipped facilities for veterinary care, laboratory, sample processing and storage facilities, they also help in identifying the cause of mortality in vultures in the region by providing all the necessary veterinary and laboratory support. The plan says certain regions of the country cannot be fully covered by the existing network of breeding centres. So it is proposed to set up one centre each in Uttar Pradesh, Tripura, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, which will cover most parts of the country.
The populations of red-headed vulture and the Egyptian vulture have also crashed by over 80 per cent over the years and it is important to set up a conservation breeding programme for these species. It is proposed to initiate the conservation breeding programme for both species in the vulture conservation breeding centres by creating additional infrastructure.
Also, four rescue centres have been proposed for different geographical areas like Pinjore in the north, Bhopal in Central India, Guwahati in northeast India and Hyderabad in South India. The centres will be established five km from the breeding centres such that veterinary expertise of the breeding centres could be utilized for treatment of sick and injured birds.
Currently there is no dedicated vulture rescue centres to treat the injured in accidents and fall sick by unintentional poisoning. It is proposed to have at least one vulture safe zone in each state for the conservation of the remnant populations.
To know the exact bird count, the plan proposed to carry out coordinated nationwide vulture count, once in four years in February, by involving state Forest Departments, BNHS, research Institutes, etc. Responding to the action plan, Rhys Green, Saving Asia’s Vultures From Extinction (SAVE) Chair, said this important plan covers an impressive range of actions, from testing the safety to vultures of veterinary drugs, linked with the regulation of their use, to conservation breeding to maintain a safe captive population.
“The plan includes the appointment of a national committee with representation of the different government departments whose work affects vulture conservation. SAVE welcomes this plan and offers the national committee any technical assistance it might want.” (IANS/KR)
High drama was witnessed in Kanpur Dehat for over an hour when a man, upset over his wife's alleged affair with a local man, climbed the tower with his children and threatened to commit suicide. The incident took place on Monday near Gandhi Nagar in Akbarpur, when the man threatened to commit suicide after throwing his kids down from a height of nearly 40-feet. Chaos prevailed around the area and the locals informed the police that rushed to the spot.
After about half-an-hour of convincing, the police managed to bring him and his children down. The man told the police that his wife's affair was going on with his neighbor. He had complained to the police, but no action was taken. Police said that as per the man, his wife had developed an illicit relationship with a man, living nearby their house. "As per the man, in his absence, his neighbor visited his house often. He said that he had reprimanded his neighbor many times, but to no avail," said the police.
The man had complained to the police, but no action was taken. | Pixabay
The man had also lodged a complaint with the police but no action was taken. On the other hand, Akbarpur police said that on the basis of the complaint, action for breach of peace has been taken against the neighbor accused of luring his wife. Circle officer (CO) Akbarpur Arun Kumar said that the police are trying to sort out the issue. "Whatever action is appropriate will be taken," the official added. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, man, wife, alleged, affair, children, India, police, neighbor, complaint, suicide, accuse, drama.)
The US forces continued their bombardment of buildings and institutions in Syria's northeastern Hasakah province, as part of their alleged manhunt of Islamic State (IS) fugitives, state news agency SANA reported. The US forces are shelling buildings and public institutions on Tuesday in the vicinity of the Sina'a prison in the Gweiran neighborhood in Hasakah "on the pretext of hunting down IS militants who fled the prison," said SANA.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry has slammed the US airstrikes as civilian casualties have been reported. | Wikimedia Commons
The shelling came in tandem with waves of raids by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to homes in the surrounding areas, rounding up many civilians and taking them to unknown locations, the state news agency added. On January 20, IS inmates inside the Sina'a prison, which is controlled by the SDF, started a riot that was coordinated with IS militants from outside, who detonated the prison's gates with two booby-trapped vehicles, succeeding to free some prisoners.
The incident triggered clashes between IS and the SDF as well as US airstrikes on the areas, where the IS fugitives could have sought shelter in, Xinhua news agency reported. The clashes and airstrikes are still ongoing as the SDF has so far failed to contain the situation and storm the prison. The Syrian Foreign Ministry has slammed the US airstrikes as civilian casualties have been reported. Hasakah province is largely controlled by the US-backed SDF, while certain areas, particularly in the city of Qamishli, are still under the control of the Syrian government. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: US forces, shelling, bombarding, syria, islamic state, civilian casualties, qamishli, tandem, syrian democratic forces)
The circulating avian influenza outbreaks, including in India, do not seem to pose the 'high' risk but surveillance and biosecurity measures are necessary to reduce spillover risk between poultry and wild birds, a UN-backed scientific task force said. Throughout the past autumn and current winter in the northern hemisphere, multiple avian influenza outbreaks, caused predominantly by the H5N1 HPAI virus, plus other subtypes, including H5N8, have occurred in India, the UK, the Netherlands and Israel with the ever recorded mortality of the Svalbard barnacle geese in Solway Coast.
The Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza and Wild Birds, co-convened by the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), on Monday recommended that surveillance and biosecurity measures are reinforced to reduce spillover risk between poultry and wild birds. The Task Force has convened and produced recommendations and guidance for authorities and managers of countries affected or at risk. Wild birds, including globally threatened species, are victims of HPAI viruses causing avian influenza. Affected sites also include areas of international relevance for conservation such as protected wetlands.
More than 2,400 migratory water birds died in the Pong wetlands in Himachal last year because of avian influenza. | Unsplash
It is essential that authorities with responsibility for animal health apply the One Health approach for communicating and addressing avian influenza. That means recognising the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants, and the wider environment and acting with a coordinated and unified approach. The Task Force reminds authorities of their international obligations to ensure their response to the pathogenic virus does not include the culling of wild birds, nor actions that would cause damage to natural ecosystems, especially wetlands.
Ruth Cromie, who coordinated the work of the Task Force and the production of the statement, said: "Avian influenza represents a One Health issue threatening health across the board. The highly pathogenic viruses are still relatively new in wild birds and this winter's high levels of mortality remind us of their vulnerability and that working to promote healthy wildlife benefits us all." H5N1 is currently the avian influenza lineage most found in Africa and Eurasia in both poultry and wild birds. The wide range of wild birds affected include wildfowl, waders, gulls, cranes, grebes, herons, pelicans, gamebirds, corvids and raptors (diurnal and nocturnal), in addition to sporadic cases in mammals such as red fox (Vulpes vulpes), Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) and harbor Phoca vitulina and grey seal Halichoerus grypus.
Consider occupational exposure, e.g. those working on poultry culling operations. | Unsplash
In terms of human health, the currently circulating H5N1 HPAI viruses do not seem to pose the same zoonotic risk as the 'original' Asian lineage H5N1 (clade 2.2 and their derivatives plus clade 126.96.36.199b H5N6 viruses currently in China). In general, the risk can be considered low, recognising that some agencies now consider occupational exposure, e.g. those working on poultry culling operations, as low or moderate. In India, several instances of bird flu were reported in 2021. More than 2,400 migratory water birds, and almost half of them being endangered bar-headed goose, died in the Pong wetlands in Himachal Pradesh last year and that avian influenza (H5N1) was the cause.
Besides the bar-headed goose, the other species that died were the shoveler, the river tern, the pochard and the common teal. An 11-year-old boy died at All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi last year due to avian influenza, country's first fatality. India reported the first outbreak of avian influenza in 2006. RSPB Scotland is calling for an emergency local moratorium restricting shooting on the Solway for the rest of the wildfowling season. It calls for urgent action to reduce the devastating impacts of avian influenza. New statistics from the most recent counts show that the UK is this winter experiencing the worst outbreak of this deadly disease on record, with migratory geese which 'over winter' on the Solway being the hardest hit.
According to RSPB Scotland, the latest population counts of the Svalbard barnacle goose show a drop in numbers from 43,703 in November last year to 27,133 in this month's count. This represents a decline of 38 per cent in the Svalbard breeding population of this species from winter 2020-21. CMS Executive Secretary Amy Fraenkel said: "Through late 2021 and early 2022 there have been numerous outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1, with severe impacts on migratory birds. "The CMS Secretariat responded by convening the Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza and Wild Birds together with the FAO. We are pleased to share its advice and key recommendations for countries affected or at risk, and look forward to continuing our collaborative work to minimize risks to humans, poultry and wild populations of migratory birds." (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : avian, influenza, surveillance, United Nation, scientists, breeding, population, birds, affected, countries, poultry, migratory, health, issue, virus, responsibility, international, ecosystem.)