Everything about Vultures: Ecological Importance, Declining Population, Threats, IUCN status, Types of Vultures and It’s conservation

Headline : Poisoned cattle carcass kills 37 vultures

Details :

The news

  • Around 37 vultures belonging to three endangered species died after feeding on pesticide-laced cattle carcass in eastern Assam’s Sivasagar district.

 

Background

  • Vultures are scavenger birds which feed on the carcasses of large animals.
  • Vultures in the country have reduced from 40 million (in 1990) to less than 60 thousand (2012).
  • Till mid of 1980s, Vultures were found in large number in India and often classified as nuisance as they were involved in many birdstrikes. However, today it is rare to sight a vulture.
  • Vultures are the natural cleaners of the environment:
    • By disposing the dead bodies they check the spread of infectious diseases.
    • In absence of vultures, the population of animals like rodents and stray dogs tend to increase leading to the spread of rabies.
  • Hence, the fast disappearing population of vultures is a serious problem in India and there is need to protect the vultures from threats to its survival.

 

News summary

  • Around 37 vultures belonging to three endangered species died in eastern Assam’s Sivasagar district after feeding on pesticide-laced cattle carcass.
  • Also, an equal number of vultures were rescued by the forest officials and a wildlife rescue team from the Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre (VCBC), which are in a critical condition.
  • It was a case of poisoning the carcass of a cow by the villagers aimed at killing feral dogs but the vultures died.
  • Most of the 37 vultures that died are Himalayan griffon and a few are oriental white-backed and slender-billed vultures.

 

 

About Vulture species in India

  • Vultures can soar to a height of 7,000 feet and can easily cover distance of more than 100 km in one go.
  • Vultures belong to various species, nine of which are found in India.
  • Of these nine species, four are listed as Critically Endangered, and one as endangered in IUCN red list of endangered species.
  • Species of Vultures found in India and their Conservation Status
    • Indian Vulture (Gyps indicus)- Critically Endangered
    • Indian White-rumped Vulture (Gyps bengalensis)- Critically Endangered
    • Red-headed Vulture (Sarcogypscalvus)- Critically Endangered
    • Slender-billed Vulture (Gyps tenuirostris)- Critically Endangered
    • Egyptian Vulture (Neophronpercnopterus)- Endangered
    • Cincerous Vulture (Aegypiusmonachus)- Near Threatened
    • Bearded Vulture (Gypaetusbarbatus)- Least Concern
    • Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus)-Least Concern
    • Himalayan Vulture (Gyps himalayansis)- Least Concern

 

 

Threats to Vulture survival

  • Diclofenac: According to Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), veterinary use of diclofenac is the main threat to the Vultures in India. The widespread use of diclofenac as pain reliever in cattle is the cause of Vulture’s mortality in India.
  • Habitat destruction Developmental activities like establishment of power projects, irrigation projects, industrial units, construction of highways etc. have ruined the habitats of Vultures resulting into decline in their population.
  • Pesticide pollution: The chlorinated hydrocarbon D.D.T (Dichloro Diphenyl Trichloroethane) used as pesticide enters the body of Vultures through food chain where it affects the activity of estrogen hormone, as a result of which the egg shell is weakened consequently the premature hatching of egg takes place causing the death of the embryo.
  • Slow breeding rate: Vultures lay a single egg in a breeding season. Hence their slow breeding rate is also a threat to their survival.
  • Use of poisoned carcasses: Poison used by human beings to kill cattle-marauding carnivores is also a threat to Vultures in India, as consumption of such poisoned carcasses by Vulture leads to their death.
  • Lack of legal protection: Out of nine species of Vultures found in India only one that is the Bearded Vulture (Gypaetusbarbatus) is protected by law and hence lack of legal protection is also a threat to their survival.

 

 

Conservation of Vultures

  • Replacing diclofenac: There is need to evolve an effective substitute of diclofenac, and the present available substitute meloxicam needs to be subsidized.
  • Captive-breeding programme: This with aim to reintroduce Vultures into the wild need to be launched on large scale, particularly for Critically Endangered and Endangered species of Vultures.
  • Legal protection: All efforts should be made to protect and conserve the Near Threatened and Least Concern species of Vultures in India and all the species of Vultures should be legally protected.
  • In situ conservation: There is need to set up Vulture feeding stations through provision of poison-free food, clean water, bone chips and perches within an open-roofed wire-mesh enclosure for safety and freedom of Vultures.
  • Habitat restoration:Degraded habitats of Vultures need to be restored.
  • Protection:Full protection must be given to nests of the Vultures in their breeding habitat.
Section : Environment & Ecology

Prelims Program: National Innovations on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA)

Headline : Prelims Program: National Innovations on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA)

Details :

 Climate change: Problems faced in India

  • Climate Change, caused by the increased concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere, has emerged as the most prominent global environmental problem.
  • Most of the countries including India are facing the problems of rising temperature, melting of glaciers, rising of sea-level leading to inundation of the coastal areas, changes in precipitation patterns leading to increased risk of recurrent droughts and devastating floods, threats to biodiversity, an expansion of pest and a number of potential challenges for public health (IPCC, 2007).
  • This is likely to threaten the food security and livelihoods of millions of people in India. Several areas have been recognized as being predominantly risk prone to the impacts of climate change.
  • Among these are the most productive coastal areas, Indo-Gangetic plains (IGP) and the frequently drought and flood prone regions of the country. To ensure the food security of the country, the resilience of Indian agriculture to climatic variability and climate change needs to be enhanced.

 

About National Innovations on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) 

  • The Government, through Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), initiated a network project on ‘National Innovations on Climate Resilient Agriculture’ (NICRA).

 

Goals of NICRA:

  • To enhance resilience of Indian agriculture through Strategic Research on adaptation and mitigation (covering crops, livestock, fisheries and natural resource management)
  • Technology Demonstration
  • Capacity Building
  • Sponsored/Competitive Grant Projects

 

Aim of NICRA

  • To make Indian agriculture resilient to climate change through development and application of adaptation and mitigation technologies.

 

Objectives

  • Phenotyping, physiological evaluation and genetic improvement of irrigated crops (rice, wheat, chickpea) for heat and drought stresses.
  • Monitoring of GHG emissions through flux towers/field measurement in irrigated rice-wheat production system in the IGP (New Delhi) and rice-rice system in south-east peninsula (Aduthurai).
  • Adaptation and mitigation through improved crop management, enhanced water productivity and nutrient use efficiency; and carbon and nutrient budgeting in rice-wheat system.
  • Strengthening real-time data capture on crop health through Satellite Data Reception System and integrate the output to agro-advisories.
  • Integrated crop modelling for wheat and rice for impact assessment and indentifying adaptation strategies at regional level for near and long-term downscaled scenario.
  • Technology demonstration on farmers fields and capacity building

 

Statistics:

  • Realizing that the climate change is likely to have major impacts on agriculture, the Government through Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has assessed the impact of climate change on Indian agriculture under different scenarios using crop simulation models.
  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has conducted climate change impact analysis on crop yields through various centres in different parts of the country using crop simulation models (INFO-CROP and HAD CM3) for 2020, 2050 and 2080.
  • The results indicate variability in temperature and rainfall pattern with significant impacts on crop yields.
  • These studies projected reduction in yields of irrigated rice by about 4% in 2020, 7% in 2050 and 10% in 2080.
  • Rainfed rice yields are likely to be reduced by 6% in 2020, but in 2050 and 2080 they are projected to decrease only marginally (<2.5%).
  • Climate change is projected to reduce timely-sown irrigated wheat production by about 6% in 2020.
  • In case of late sown wheat, however, the projected reductions are to the extent of 18, 23 and 25 percent in 2020, 2050 and 2080 respectively.
  • Yields of irrigated kharif maize may decrease by about 18% in 2020 and 2050 and about 23% in 2080 due to climate change.
  • Rainfed sorghum yields are projected to decline marginally (2.5%) in 2020 scenario and by about 8% in 2050.
Section : Miscellaneous

Why a dam in Karnataka bothers Tamil Nadu

Headline : Why a dam in Karnataka bothers Tamil Nadu

Details :

Why in news?

  • Recently, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E K Palaniswami wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to stop the process of a feasibility study for the Mekedatu dam project in Karnataka.

 

About Mekedatu dam project

  • Being set up by the Karnataka government, the project is near Mekedatu, in Ramanagaram district, across the river Cauvery from Tamil Nadu.
  • Its proposed capacity is 48 TMC (thousand million cubic feet).
  • Its primary objective is to supply drinking water to Bengaluru and recharge the groundwater table in the region.

 

 

Background

  • The dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over the sharing of Cauvery waters is decades old.
  • For many years, both the states have been maintaining differences over the sharing of water.
  • Karnataka intends to build Mekedatu reservoir across river Cauvery near Mekedatu in Kanakapura taluk.
  • However, Tamil Nadu objected saying Karnataka had not sought prior permission for the project. Its argument was that the project would affect the flow of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.
  • In November 2014, the Karnataka government invited expressions of interest in the Rs 6,000-crore project. In its 2015 Budget, it allocated Rs 25 crore for a detailed project report.
  • Tamil Nadu saw massive protests in 2015, including a state-wide bandh backed by political parties, farmers, transport unions, retailers and traders.
  • The T.N. Assembly also adopted a unanimous resolution urging the Centre to stop Karnataka from building the project.
  • Ahead of the 2016 Assembly polls in Tamil Nadu, delegation of Opposition leaders met the Prime Minister against Karnataka’s decision to allocate Rs 25 crore for a feasibility study.
  • From Karnataka, then Chief Minister Siddaramaiah led an all-party delegation to the Prime Minister seeking the Centre’s cooperation in going ahead.
  • The study has been cleared by the Central Water Commission (CWC), which has also asked for a detailed project report.
  • The process cleared by the CWC needs further clearance from the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) too.

 

Note

  • The CWC clearance is for a report subject to certain conditions, which include the concerns raised by the Tamil Nadu government.
  • The detailed report has to consider the views of the co-basin states as well.

 

Why Tamil Nadu is opposing the project?

  • Its main argument is that the project violates the final award of the Cauvery River Water Tribunal, and that the construction of the two reservoirs would result in impounding of the flows in the intermediate catchment below the Krishnaraja Sagar and Kabini reservoirs, and Billigundulu in the common border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

 

Arguments given by Karnataka government

  • According to Karnataka, project will not come in the way of releasing the stipulated quantum of water to Tamil Nadu, nor will it be used for irrigation purposes.

 

 

Section : Polity & Governance

Zoological Survey of India

The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), a premier research institution under the Ministry has completed 100 years of services to the Nation, undertaking survey, exploration and research leading to the advancement of our knowledge on the exceptionally rich faunal diversity of the country since its inception in 1916. Over the successive plan periods functions of ZSI have also expanded gradually encompassing areas like the Environmental Impact Assessment with regard to fauna; survey of conservation areas; status survey of endangered species; computerization of digitization of data on faunal resources; Environmental Information System (ENVIS) on faunal diversity; identification and advisory services; National Designated Repository of type and voucher specimens; supporting enforcement of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972; establishment of marine aquaria and Museum for awareness on conservation etc. and acts as a custodian of the National Zoological Collections. Headquarters are at Kolkata and 16 Regional centres are located at different parts of the country.

Botanical Survey of India

Botanical Survey of India (BSI) is the apex research organization under Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Govt. of India for carrying out taxonomic and floristic studies on wild plant resources of the country. It was established in 1890 with the basic objective to explore the plant resources of country and to identify the plants species with economic virtues. After independence the department was reorganized in 1954 by Government of India as a part of scientific development of the country. During the successive plan periods, the functional base of BSI was further expanded to include various new areas such as inventorying of endemic, rare and threatened plant species; evolving conservation strategies; studies on fragile ecosystems and protected areas, like wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and biosphere reserves, multiplication and maintenance of endemic and threatened plant species, wild ornamentals, etc., in Botanic Gardens and Orchidaria; documentation of traditional knowledge associated with plants and development of National Database of herbarium specimens/live collection/ botanical paintings/ illustrations, plant distribution and nomenclature, plant uses, etc.