Introduction: What conservation problem or question does your study address?Once abundant the population of the three resident Gyps species of vultures,Gyps bengalensis, Gyps tenuirostris & Gyps indicus are now Critically Endangered. The main cause of the decline is the ingestion of a veterinary painkiller, diclofenac, from cattle carcasses. Diclofenac has been banned for veterinary use since 2006 but still the human formulation is misused. To save the birds, diclofenac should be removed from cattle carcasses, the main vulture food supply.
Methods: What were the main research methods you used?Creating Vulture Safe Zones (VSZ). With Majuli, a river island of River Brahmaputra of Jorhat district as the centre, a 100 km radius area, encompassing 9 districts (30,000km2 area) is selected for creation of VSZ.Activities at the VSZ:1 Targeted awareness a. Films on vulture conservation (“The Vanishing Vultures” translated in local language) and PowerPoint presentations were shown to the villagersb. Meetings with local NGOs, cattle owners, veterinarians, Para-vets, chemists, students,forest officials at the nesting site & distribution of vulture posters c. Sensitization of cattle owners, veterinarians and quacks by regular holding meetings to check spillover of human diclofenac into veterinary sector2 Pharmacy Survey (3 stages)To check the leakage of diclofenac into veterinary Stage1 undercoverStage2 openStage3 undercover3 Vulture MonitoringNest identification and monitoring vulture population for any decline
Results: What are your most important results?In nine districts over 100 public awareness camps were organize & over 200 meetings with Veterinarians, Forest officials, chemist, Cattle camp owners local NGOs etc were organized in the VSZ Assam.Pharmacy survey shows that out of the 46 pharmacies surveyed in 9 district, 8 have given diclofenac A total of forty nests have been identified, of which (28) Sibsagar (5)Golaghat, (4)Dibrugarh (3) Lakhimpur. However the monitoring of their population is an ongoing process
Discussion: What are your important discussion points and what is the relevance of your results to conservation (if any)?Almost 99% people at village meetings admits that they were unaware of the lethal effect of diclofenac on vultures. Many cattle owners admits that they were using diclofenac till date unknowinglyMonitoring of other emerging threats to vultures within the area is an essential component A significant number of nest were identified from Sibsagar district thus this district is very much important for conservation of vultureVultures provide vital ecosystem services