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Missing critically endangered Nepal white-rumped vulture found in Bihar

A missing critically endangered white-rumped vulture, used by Nepal to monitor the species’ population and breeding success, was rescued earlier this month in Bihar’s Darbhanga, officials here said.

The male satellite-tagged vulture had been off the radar since April and was last sighted in September in Nepal’s Tanahun district, 10 months after being released into the wild by Nepalese authorities this year.

His disappearance had been a concern for Nepal’s conservationists until he was caught by staff at the Bhagalpur bird ringing station as the bird sat in a field in Benipur in Darbhanga on Nov. 13 in a weak and hungry state, the officials said. .

The white-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis) has been listed as critically endangered since 2000 on the IUCN Red List because its population declined rapidly, mainly due to eating carcasses of animals treated with the veterinary drug diclofenac, said Bihar Chief Wildlife Warden PK Gupta. .

The species was common in the Indian subcontinent, in addition to Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and southern Vietnam and was found in close proximity to human habitation. The white-rumped vulture mainly feeds on the ground, but sleeps and nests in trees and cliffs, spending much of its time soaring on wind currents in search of carrion. Their nests are typically two to 18 meters above the ground.

The bird is medium in size and dark with blackish plumage, a white neck ruff and a white patch of feathers on the lower back and upper tail, from which its name is derived. The adult birds are darker than the juveniles.

An adult white-rumped vulture is 75 to 85 cm long with a wingspan of 180 to 210 cm and a weight ranging from 3.5 to 7.5 kg. The male and female birds are about the same size.

“Released with ecotone satellite tag #4857637306-NEPA13 with aluminum purple paw ring #N 15 for investigation and monitoring of vulture safe zone by Nepal authorities, it is now in safe hands,” Gupta told PTI.

News of the find was shared with the Jatayu Conservation Breeding Center in Pinjore (Haryana), the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSHB) in Sandy (England) were immediately alerted, he said . .

The vulture is now kept in Darbhanga under general observation of the Bird Ringing and Monitoring Station in Bhagalpur and will be released after a few days, he said.

Gupta said after the rescue, the bird was found to be weak because it was hungry. It was immediately supplied with food and other supplies and is now normal.

”The vulture has also been medically examined. The Nepalese authorities have appreciated our efforts and have also shared details of his movements,” he said.

The vulture had traveled to Sohagi Baruwa Wildlife Sanctuary, Maharajganj (Uttar Pradesh) after its release in November 2021 – about 55 km away on 9 February 2022 with regular data transfer. Later, the bird traveled back to Nepal, nearly 60 miles (96 km), to Abukhairi (Tanahu) and has not sent any data since April 2022. message from the Nepalese authorities.

Bihar has become the fourth state in the country to have a bird ringing station. Rings are placed on the birds’ legs to study their migration pattern, mortality, territoriality and other behaviors using encoded codes embedded in the attached tracking device, he said.

The bird ringing station in Bhagalpur had previously rescued a Mongolian Pallas osprey named Anna in October 2021.

“This eagle had started migrating from a bird sanctuary in Mangolia on September 21, 2021 and passed through Bangladesh and entered India on October 10, 2021. Finally, it was spotted in Bihar,” said Gupta.

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