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Vulture population stabilising in Nepal

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The 13th National Annual Vulture Survey has revealed that the number of white-rumped vulture in Nepal has increased by 36 in a year.

According to Bird Conservation Nepal, 111 white-rumped vultures were recorded during the survey this year. Their population stood at 75 last year.

Vulture Conservation Officer at BCN Krishna Prasad Bhusal said with the increment, vulture population had stabilised.

“Since 2009, annual surveys have shown that the population of white-rumped vultures is slightly increasing in western Nepal,” Bhusal told The Himalayan Times, adding, “The vulture population which stood at 43 in 2013, 68 in 2014, 71 in 2015, 75 in 2016 seems to be gradually stabilising instead of declining rapidly.”

While 205 white-rumped vultures were found in 2002, their population had declined to 195 in 2003, 141 in 2006, 141 in 2008, 52 in 2009, 66 in 2010, 63 in 2011 and 43 in 2012.

BCN said this survey was supported by Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, UK and conducted in collaboration with Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Nepal.

“As many as 111 white-rumped vultures were recorded this year. This shows that their population is gradually stabilising,” Bhusal further added.

A team of vulture conservationists from Bird Conservation Nepal recently completed 13th annual highway transects survey of vultures to determine the rate of changes in their population. The survey covered 560km area from Narayanghat, Chitwan to Gaddachowki, Kanchanpur.

The survey was conducted during May 2 to May 12 this year in a vehicle driven at a rate of 20 km per hour. This survey identifies and records all vultures sighted within 1000m of either side of the road.

In addition to east-west highway, the team also surveyed the mountain routes of Lamahi-Tulsipur-Salyan-Rukum and Bhalubang-Pyuthan-Rolpa-Arghakhanchi-Gulmi-Palpa-Syanja-Kaski-Tanahu-Mugling.  Between 1995 and 2011, monitoring of vulture populations in lowland Nepal revealed declines of 91 per cent and 96 per cent for white-rumped vulture and slender-billed vulture.

The white-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis) is an Old World vulture native to South and Southeast Asia. It has been listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2000.

The Himalayan Times