Terai region to be made diclofenac-free zone for vultures

Diclofenac is a restricted drug, banned by the government in 2006 for veterinary uses.

Lakhimpur: Vultures will soon get a
safe home in the Terai region with conservationists embarking
on a programme to make the area free from diclofenac, a drug
which has led to a dip in the population of the scavenging
birds.

The Terai region comprising Kheri, Pilibhit and
Bahraich districts have a sizeable population of Indian
vultures despite vulture casualties due to renal failure and
visceral gout caused by diclofenac.

To strengthen the presence of the birds in the area
and to make the place safe for them, the Bombay Natural
History Society (BNHS) under its Birdlife Preventing
Extinction Programme (BPEP) has undertaken the project to
protect and conserve the depleting population of vultures.

Nearly 500 vultures have been reported surviving in
Kheri during their ongoing counting till May 15.

International NGO, Birdlife, has sponsored the
programme and neighbouring country Nepal is also assisting it
to make Terai area, diclofenac-free, they said.

Diclofenac is a restricted drug, banned by the government in 2006 for veterinary uses.

The BNHS has assigned Katarnighat Foundation (KGF) and
Terai Nature Conservation Society (TNCS) to carry out surveys,
organise public awareness campaigns and to seek active
cooperation from the authorities to stop the use of diclofenac
by veterinary doctors.

"The vultures would be relocated in Terai region once
the area becomes diclofenac-free. For the purpose, vultures
are being breeded at Vulture Care Centre (VCC) in Pinjore,
Haryana," Convenor, TNCS, Vijay Prakash Singh said.

"Samples from carcasses of livestock would be
collected and tested to ascertain if the areas were diclofenac
free. Once this is established, the vulture rehabilitation
programme would be set in motion," Singh said.

According to divisional forest officer (DFO), North
Kheri division, Kartik Kumar Singh nearly 200 vultures have
been sighted in various ranges of the division.

"Nesting of vultures at several places in Isanagar,
Dhaurehra, Nighasan and Belrayan had been spotted," he said.

Under the vulture conservation programme, public
awareness campaigns would be held, village level committees
would be formed and authorities would be urged to ensure that
the natural scavengers enjoy a diclofenac-free zone, officials
said.

PTI