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Vulture Action Plan 2020-25

Vulture Action Plan 2020-25

Context:

Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change has launched a Vulture Action Plan 2020-25 for the conservation of vultures in the country. The objective of the plan is to not just halt the decline but to actively increase the vulture numbers in India.

  • There are nine recorded species of vultures in India i.e. Oriental white-backed, long-billed, slender-billed, Himalayan, red-headed, Egyptian, bearded, cinereous and the Eurasian Griffon.

Background:

  • Since 2006, the ministry has been carrying out a conservation project for vultures and now the plan is to extend the project to 2025. 
  • The crash in vulture populations came into limelight in the mid-90s, and in 2004 the cause of the crash was established as diclofenac.
    • Diclofenac is a veterinary non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to treat pain and inflammatory diseases such as gout.
  • The MoEFCC released the Action Plan for Vulture Conservation 2006 with the DCGI banning the veterinary use of diclofenac in the same year and the decline of the vulture population being arrested by 2011.

Vulture Action Plan 2020-25:

  • The action plan aims to carry forth what has already been set in motion by ensuring that the sale of veterinary NSAIDs is regulated and livestock are treated only by qualified veterinarians.
  • The four rescue centres have been proposed for different geographical areas like Pinjore in the north, Bhopal in central India, Guwahati in Northeast and Hyderabad in South India for treatment of vultures in the country.
  • The plan includes instituting a system with the help of Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) which automatically removes a drug from veterinary use, such as Diclofenac if it is found to be toxic to vultures.
  • Under the 2020-25 plan, the ministry will also work for conservation breeding programme of Red-Headed Vulture and Egyptian Vulture, and help states in establishing at least one ‘Vulture Safe Zone’ in each state for the conservation of the remnant population.

Significance:

  • Vultures play a very important role in quickly disposing of carcasses that could harbour millions of pathogenic bacteria and fungus and cause serious implications for human and animal health.
  • The vulture numbers saw a steep slide (90 % in some species) in India since the 1990s in one of the most drastic declines in bird populations in the world.
  • Between the 1990s and 2007, numbers of three presently critically-endangered species (the Oriental white-backed, long-billed and slender-billed vultures) crashed massively with 99 % of the species having been wiped out.
    • Red-headed vulture: It is listed as critically endangered. Its population is declined by 91%.
    • Egyptian vulture: It is listed as ‘endangered’. Its population is declined by 80%.
    • Himalayan, bearded and cinereous vultures: These are listed as ‘near threatened’.

The Vulture Safe Zone programme:

  • It is being implemented at eight different places in the country where there were extant populations of vultures, including two in Uttar Pradesh.
  • The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) and Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) also established the Vulture Conservation Breeding Programme, which has been successful and had three critically-endangered species bred in captivity for the first time.

Source: Indian Express