India’s vultures becoming extinct

Posted by Christine, August 3, 2011

Meera Subramanian writes in Virginia Quarterly Review:

Today, India’s vultures are almost gone. Vibhu Prakash, principal scientist with BNHS, noticed the first nascent signs of a crisis nearly fifteen years ago. He had studied bird populations in Keoladeo National Park outside of Delhi in 1984, documenting 353 nesting pairs of vultures. When he returned in 1996, there were less than half those numbers.

“I saw a lot of empty nests, and when I started looking, there were dead birds everywhere—under the bushes and hanging from the trees, dead in the nests,” Prakash told me later. “I was quite worried.” By 1999, not one pair remained. BNHS put out an alert, and biologists from all over the country confirmed that the three dominant species of South Asian vultures—slender-billed (Gyps tenuerostris), white-backed (Gyps bengalensis), and long-billed (Gyps indicus)—were dying across the region.

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