Endangered vulture gets new life

This endangered white-rumped vulture is receiving treatment from the Bangladesh Wildlife Service Foundation. It has recently been rescued from Dakhin Borohat of Sreemangal. Photo: Mintu Deshwara

The rescue of a white-rumped vulture from Sreemangal of Moulvibazar once again turned the spotlight on the majestic but endangered creature.

Md. Saidul Islam Sahin, a resident of Dakhin Borohat area who caught the bird, told this correspondent that a few weeks ago, he saw the vulture appear out of nowhere, walk towards a pond near his house and then fall right in. The bird almost drowned but thankfully Sahin had the good sense to save it.

After rescuing it, he informed Bangladesh Wildlife Service Foundation. They then took the wild vulture the next day and transferred it to their zoo.

The vulture is currently under the care of Bangladesh Wildlife Service Foundation in Sreemangal and is being treated.

Sopon Deb Sojol, director of the Bangladesh Wildlife Service Foundation told this correspondent that the vulture is still very weak and it will take it a few more days to fully recover. “The bird's right leg and waist were badly injured. After bringing him to our zoo and giving him saline, water and red meat, his condition has improved,” he said. 

Mohammad Ashraful Kabir, coordinator of Bhumi Sontan Bangladesh (an environment and animal rights based organisation), told this correspondent that white-rumped vultures have almost disappeared from Bangladesh. Many vulture species are facing a similar situation in other South Asian countries.

Loss of habitat and scarcity of food are the main reasons behind the rapid disappearance of vultures across South Asia, he said.

Tabibur Rahman, assistant conservator of forest under the wildlife management said this vulture is the most endangered species of vultures in the whole world. He estimated a population of merely 200 individuals in Bangladesh.

White-rumped vultures are also known as Indian white-backed vulture or oriental white backed vulture.

The birds mainly feed on the cattle carcasses.

RSM Monirul Islam, divisional forest officer of Sylhet Forest Division, blamed the fall in vulture numbers to the presence of toxic chemicals in cattle cadavers.

The continuous use of two banned medicines-- diclofenac and ketoprofen—which are fed to cattle to fatten them, can fatally harm vultures that later feed on the animals. 

For the birds, the presence of the drugs turns the flesh poisonous.

He said that the extinction of vultures was bound to adversely affect Bangladesh's biodiversity.

Rabies and anthrax would become endemic due to the disappearance of vultures as no other species are immune to botulism and Bacillus anthracis, the bacteria that causes anthrax. The creature is listed as endangered in IUCN Red List.


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