Vultures of Nagarparker: WWF to setup sanctuary following recently discovered nesting sites in the area
Tharparker District in Sindh is not just the only fertile desert in the world but is also home of some of the rare migratory birds in the country. Most of these birds which visit the area to avoid the harsh winters of their home countries mostly use the land for nesting purposes and for the propagation of their hatchlings in comparatively suitable atmosphere.
Recently the Wildlife monitoring agencies came across new nesting sites of the endangered White-back and Long-billed Vultures, specie which has experienced fast decline in their population in the region. Emboldened by the new development, the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) has established a sanctuary for the specie in the Nagarparker Town.
“Nagarparkar remains the last stronghold of the two critically endangered vulture species in the country — the long-billed vulture and the white-backed vulture. The long-billed vulture has always restricted to Nagarparkar, particularly Karoonjhar Hills, whereas the white-backed vulture is found in Punjab as well, its active nests are only found in Sindh,” said Uzma Khan, director of biodiversity looking after the vulture conservation project of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
Vultures play an important role in the ecosystem of any region, working as the natural recycling units which devour and consume the flesh of the dead and decaying animals. They not only control the spread of deadly disease like Anthrax, Tuberculosis and Foot-and-Mouth diseases, but also add to the beauty and the diversity of the region.
Long-Billed and White-Backed Vultures have experienced sharp decline in the population predominantly owing to the widespread use of Diclofenac — a cheap widely available non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug commonly used in livestock in the Indian subcontinent for treatment of inflammation, pain, etc.
Omair Shahid, who has been working with the WWF and has been to the project site many times, said that: “Vultures are poisoned by Diclofenac which causes immediate death when they eat carcasses of livestock that have been administered veterinary Diclofenac”.
The necropsy of dead vultures showed that 80pc of adults, 63pc of sub-adults, 19pc of juveniles and 13pc of nestlings had visceral gout (a disease of birds in which kidney failure causes a build-up or urates in the internal organs) and this finding was consistent with the earlier reports from India.
The drug was banned by the Government in the year 2008 but its use has not been successfully checked over the span of time.
There are other species of the birds dwelling the area but their population is stable for the moment.
Among them, four of the Gyps vulture species are only found in Asia. These are oriental white-backed vulture (Gyps benegalensis), long-billed vulture (Gyps indicus), slender-billed vulture (Gyps tenuirostris) and Himalayan griffon vulture (Gyps himalayensis) and Eurasian Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) that breed in Eurasia but migrate to Africa and South Asia. The geographic range of these vultures overlaps.
In a recent survey conducted throughout Pakistan in the vulture breeding season from November 2010 to April 2011, a total of 457 Egyptian vultures, 167 Eurasian Griffon, 43 white-backed vultures, three king/black vultures, seven cinereous vultures, 55 long-billed vultures and 89 Himalayan griffon were seen across 77 sites in Pakistan.