General Studies IIIEnvironment and Ecology

Himalayan Griffon Vulture


Recently, at least Himalayan Griffons died of suspected poisoning in Assam.

About Himalayan Griffon Vulture:

  • The Himalayan vulture or Himalayan griffon vulture is an Old World vulture native to the Himalayas and the adjoining Tibetan Plateau.
  • It is one of the two largest Old World vultures and true raptors.
  • It is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List.
  • A study by the Bombay Natural History Society and other organisations in the 1990s found that the population of the Gyps group in India and Nepal declined from about 40 million by 99.9% in just two decades.
    • Himalayan griffon, white-backed and slender-billed are among its members.
  • Distribution Range:
    • The Himalayan vulture mostly lives in the Himalayas on the Tibetan plateau (India, Nepal and Bhutan, central China and Mongolia).
    • It is also found in the Central Asian mountains (from Kazakhstan and Afghanistan in the west to western China and Mongolia in the east).
    • Occasionally it migrates to northern India but migration usually only occurs altitudinally.
  • Threats:
    •  The most serious potential threat to this species is thought to be mortality caused through ingestion of diclofenac and other vulture-toxic non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) widely used in livestock, particularly in South Asia.

What are the Characteristics of Vultures?

  • About:
    • It is one of the 22 species of large carrion-eating birds that live predominantly in the tropics and subtropics.
    • They act an important function as nature’s garbage collectors and help to keep the environment clean of waste.
      • Vultures also play a valuable role in keeping wildlife diseases in check.
  • Species in India:
    • India is home to 9 species of Vulture namely the Oriental white-backed, Long-billed, Slender-billed, Himalayan, Red-headed, Egyptian, Bearded, Cinereous and the Eurasian Griffon.
      • Most of these 9 species face danger of extinction.
      • Bearded, Long-billed, Slender-billed, Oriental white-backed are protected in the Schedule-1 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. Rest are protected under ‘Schedule IV’.
  • Threats:
    • Poisoning from diclofenac that is used as a medicine for livestock.
    • Loss of Natural Habitats due to anthropogenic activities.
    • Food Dearth and Contaminated Food.
    • Electrocution by Power lines.
  • Conservation Efforts
    • By India:
      • The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) launched a Vulture Action Plan 2020-25 for the conservation of vultures in the country.
    • To study the cause of deaths of vultures in India, a Vulture Care Centre (VCC) was set up at Pinjore, Haryana in 2001.
    • Later in 2004, the VCC was upgraded to being the first Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centre (VCBC) in India.
      • At present, there are nine Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centres (VCBC) in India, of which three are directly administered by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).
    • International:
      • International: SAVE (Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction):
        • The consortium of like-minded, regional and international organisations, created to oversee and coordinate conservation, campaigning and fundraising activities to help the plight of south Asia’s vultures.
        • Objective: To save three critically important species from extinction through a single programme.

What is IUCN?

The IUCN is a global union composed of both government as well as civil society organisations. With more than 1400 organisations as its members, the IUCN is an international authority on the status of the natural world. 

  • It works in the domain of sustainable development and also recommends measures to tackle the depletion of resources.
  • It works to conserve the various species of flora and fauna.
  • Its members include States, non-governmental organizations, indigenous peoples’ organisations, experts, government agencies, etc.
  • Established in 1948, the IUCN has the tools and knowledge repository to help the world conserve nature and ensure sustainable development.
  • When it was first set up in Fontainebleau (France), it was the first international environmental union. Its objective was to promote international cooperation and provide scientific knowledge and tools to aid conservation action.
  • It established the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 1964.
  • It also played a huge role in the formation of major international conventions such as the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, the World Heritage Convention and the Convention on Biological Diversity.
  • In 1980, partnering with the UNEP and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the IUCN published the World Conservation Strategy, a document which helped define the concept of ‘sustainable development’ and shaped the global conservation and sustainable development agenda.
  • In 1992, in light of the growing environmental concerns, the United Nations granted official observer status to the IUCN.
  • Currently, the IUCN is the biggest and most diverse environmental network.

Source: Down To Earth

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