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Vulture numbers up by 21 from last year

INDORE: For a second consecutive year, vultures at Gandhi Sagar Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh have seen a rise in number. In a count conducted by the forest department of Ujjain, 682 vultures were spotted at the sanctuary – 21 more than last year.

Forest department officials said the increase in number suggests that the birds have found a suitable habitat in the region. “We have been making several efforts to conserve vultures. They get suitable food and environment to flourish in the region,” said BS Annigiri, chief conservator of forest, Ujjain.

Annigiri said most of the vultures spotted in the region are Egyptian vultures. “While there are other types of vultures in the area too, Egyptian vultures are the most populous in this part of the country,” Annigiri said.

The counting was conducted on Monday and Tuesday at 65 sites. On Monday, officials of the forest department spotted 84 juvenile vultures and 127 adult vultures. On Tuesday, 471 vultures were spotted.

Experts said that local people raise a lot of cattle in this area. When they die, they leave the carcasses in the forest, which acts as food for the scavengers. Carnivorous animals like leopards also kill some animals. Vultures scavenge on these left overs too.

Last year the forest department had conducted a state wide count of vultures. This year however, other regions of the state have not come up with the count. More than 7,000 vultures were spotted in the last year in Madhya Pradesh.

The largest population was spotted in Panna district, where 793 vultures were spotted. Mandsaur stood at second position with 681 while 283 vultures were found in Neemuch.
In Madhya Pradesh, seven species of vultures are found of which three are migratory. The counting was conducted in the mornings when vultures can either be found in their nests or roosting area. To minimise errors, only those vultures that were found sitting were counted.

(Times of India, 24 March 2017)

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