Numbers of the country’s carrion-loving birds dropped by over 97% in the 1990s. Now, a successful breeding scheme is giving them a boost
In February, the doors of an aviary in West Bengal’s Buxa tiger reserve were flung open. Eight critically endangered captive-bred white-rumped vultures cautiously emerged and within minutes were mingling with wild vultures, devouring the meat of carcasses left out by a team of researchers from the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).
The birds were raised in a nearby breeding centre by BNHS, led by assistant director Sachin Ranade, as part of efforts to save India’s Gyps vultures. Gradually, some of the released vultures perched on trees with their wild cousins, while others returned to the wire-mesh aviary where they had spent the previous few months getting acclimatised to their surroundings.