Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) working in the field of nature conservation, has urged the forest department to increase the amount of the compensation awarded to coconut growers in Shrivardhan taluka to encourage them to preserve nests of White Backed and Long Billed vultures.
The birds are currently listed as critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) because of their rapid population decline.
The government recently approved compensation of Rs 400 per nesting tree every year to urge coconut tree owners to conserve these nests. The NGO has suggested that the amount be increased to Rs 1,000 per annum.
“Shrivardhan taluka in Raigad district has recorded the maximum number of vulture nests (30). The nesting sites being on coconut trees, the owners usually have to forego their produce for about six months. We are also working to engage tourists who visit the habitat of these birds to participate in conserving the species,” a statement issued by the organisation said.
Drastic decline in the vulture population and the fact that the bird lays only one egg in a year make it necessary to protect every nest to stabilise the population of the species. The protection and conservation attempts are being carried out in Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts in Konkan. Surveys and constant monitoring have revealed that while the White Backed vultures reside in Shrivardhan and Chirgaon, the Long Billed Vultures nest in Vihali, Nane Machi and Ranavadi.
The NGO has been working to conserve the vulture species with assistance from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) under the guidance of forest department. In January this year, the organisation celebrated ‘Jatayu Mohatsav’ to create awareness about vultures and the need for their protection and conservation. Locals, village panchayats, the department of animal husbandry, chemists and druggists are being roped in for the efforts.
Activists in the Sahyadri region is also campaigning for successful implementation of the ban on veterinary usage of Diclofenac, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that is detrimental to the vulture population.
Besides, Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra has been organising a variety of events, like cattle health checkup camps and providing animal health-cards, to maintain cattle health. It has been proactive in providing information about the appropriate ways to dispose of dead cattle and about fencing the disposal plots in open.