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Conservation History: Nepal Frees Six Critically-Endangered Vultures

This is the first such move in decades and also marks South Asia’s first-ever release of captive-reared critically-endangered birds


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Conservation History: Nepal Frees Six Critically-Endangered Vultures

In a major step towards wildlife conservation, Nepal released its six captive-reared critically-endangered species of white-rumped vultures into the wild on November 9, 2017.

This major initiative by Nepal has drawn a wide appreciation from the global conservation community and is coming at a time when the world conservation ecosystem is deeply worried about the plight of vultures, globally.

It seems the good days have come for vultures as is evident in the recent major announcements made by the world governments on the conservation of vulture species.


The Convention on Migratory Species Conference of Parties, held in Manila in October 2017, witnessed the announcement of a Multi-species Action Plan to save 15 vulture species across 128 countries.

Next to that, the Madras High Court, India has also passed a ruling restricting the dosage of vulture-killing drug, Diclofenac, to save vultures.

Now it’s Nepal, in a move that is seen for the first time in decades. This move also marks South Asia’s first-ever release of captive-reared critically-endangered birds.

Vulture Safe Zone At its Best

The Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN, BirdLife in Nepal) and RSPB (BirdLife in the United Kingdom) have been relentlessly working, under the SAVE (Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction) consortium, against the serious threats posed by painkiller drug diclofenac to the vulture species.

 “Within the provisional Vulture Safe Zone (VSZ), we conduct undercover surveys of pharmacies and have found no diclofenac in the last four years. We also conduct surveys of vulture populations and have found that the population declines have slowed and possibly reversed,” says Krishna Bhusal, BCN.

Meanwhile, Toby Galligan, Senior Conservation Scientist, RSPB Centre for Conservation Science says, “It is time to assess whether the provisional VSZ has become a true VSZ, but only the vultures can show us that.”

Toby further informed that they are using satellite telemetry to track wild white-rumped vultures remotely and in the field.

“If any die we can recover them, examine them for cause of death and prevent other vultures dying from that cause,” added Toby.

Months prior to the release of six birds, SAVE had also tracked several species of wild vultures and concluded that all of them are currently alive and well.

November 21, 2017 |

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