Three Indian Vulture Gyps indicus chicks were hatched in captivity for the first time ever. Chris Bowden, of BirdLife in the UK, said: “The crisis facing vultures is one of the worst facing the natural world. Since the declines of these birds was first noticed, the speed at which they have gone is terrifying and these birds played such an important role in cleaning up carcasses and the environment!”
His point about the role of vultures in the environment is an important one. Though they are not a species loved by many (like panda bears, for example), the vultures do perform a valuable service in their habitats. They are very persistent scavengers and remove dead animals from the environment. Their decline in population has been very rapid, and cultural attitudes toward them might have played a role.
Three Asian vulture species (Oriental white-backed vulture G.bengalensis, Long-billed vulture G.indicus, and Slender-billed vulture G.tenuirostris) have been in severe decline; so much so that they are considered critically endangered. The Asian Vulture Population Project has been set up to bring them back from the brink of extinction. Populations fell by 95 percent in just three years, back in the 1990s.
Image Credit: Lip Kee