SUBJECT :Biodiversity 
After setting up the countries first vulture-breeding centre almost 10 years ago in Bir Shikargah Wildlife Sanctuary, the Haryana Wildlife Department is all set to reintroduce its first pair of vultures, bred in captivity at Jatayu (vulture) Conservation Breeding Centre, Pinjore, in the wild this December.

Out of the eight states taht have set up vulture-breeding centres after the population of this majestic creature dwindled drastically in the mid 90’s due to rampant use of diclofenac (a drug used in treating cattle), Haryana bred 215 vultures at the centre and now, will take lead to release the first pair to its natural habitat in the Morni Hills.

Initially, a pair of Himalayan Griffon vulture (in captivity for many years) would be released as surrogate in a pre-release programme. The pre-release will be done to ensure that captivity had not altered their behaviour and the birds were fit to be released.

To monitor their behaviour and area of operation in the wild within a radial distance of 100 km from the release aviary, the department will fit satellite transmitters on the birds.

For the pre-release of the birds, the department will set up a release-aviary in Badisher village in Morni Hills where the birds would be kept for two –three months. After the successful reintroduction of the Himalayan Griffon vultures, about 10 to 15 white-backed vultures would be released. The decision was taken in a meeting of the governing council of the Jatayu Conservation Breeding Centre, chaired by Amit Jha, Principal Secretary, Forest and Wildlife, Haryana, at Pinjore, on Tuesday.

Apart from the top brass of the Haryana Wildlife, Animal and Husbandry, Food and Drug Administration, Health and Family Welfare of Haryana government, and representatives of Ministry of Forest and Environment, Dr Vibhu Prakash, principal scientist from Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), who is handling the project from the beginning and Chris Bowden, of The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, UK, which is funding the vulture-breeding project, also attended the meeting.

Jha disclosed that a team comprising officials from the Forest, Wildlife, Animal Husbandry and Food and Drug Controller Department would be constituted for the evaluation of 100 km area covering Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Uttaranchal, Uttrakhand and Uttar Pradesh for the availability of food, habitat and prevalence of diclofenac and any other potential threat to vultures before their release.

Source: 25 June, 2015, The Tribune