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Recent changes in populations of resident Gyps vultures in India
Abstract and Figures
Nine species of vultures are recorded from Indian subcontinent. The populations of three resident Gyps species, namely Oriental White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis, Long-billed Vulture Gyps indicus and Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris crashed during the mid nineties of the last century. Vulture declines were first documented at Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan. Subsequently, the crash in populations was documented across the country. During the present study, surveys on identified tracks were done in 2007 to repeat surveys done previously in 1992, 2000, 2002 and 2003. This was done to determine the population trend in the three species of vultures and also to get a rough estimate of the surviving population of vultures in 2007. The latest repeat surveys were carried out from March to June 2007 by driving in a motor vehicle and recording vultures within 500 m on the either side of each transect. The results indicate that the population of the three species of vultures continues to decline at an alarming rate. Numbers of Oriental White-rumped Vulture declined by 99.9% between 1992 and 2007 on the transects surveyed each year during that period. The equivalent decline in the combined total of Gyps indicus and G. tenuirostris was 96.8%. The population of Oriental White-rumped Vulture has an average annual rate of decline of 43.9% between 2000-2007, whereas the combined average annual rate of decline of G. indicus and G. tenuirostris is over 16%. A complete ban on the use of diclofenac in livestock and the establishment of conservation breeding centres are suggested to prevent the extinction of these three species of vultures.
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