Live streaming from cameras, which are to be set up at cliff not very far from city, will help experts gather scientfic data on breeding, parenting methods, behaviour; it could also be useful for intervention if needed.
In February 2015, researchers spotted a nesting and breeding site of the Indian vulture (Gyps indicus) in a section of the Western Ghats, located not very far from the city. The nest, which was attended to by the female, also had an egg. However, the shock came when they spotted a pair of Bonelli’s eagles continually attacking the nest. Subsequently, they saw that although the vulture was still around, the egg was gone.
This incident has prompted the latest move in vulture conservation. As the population of the Indian vulture has fallen by a ridiculous 95-99 per cent in the past decade, the need to work for its conservation has only become imperative.
With an aim to gather scientific data, to aid conservation, the forest department’s wildlife division and ELA Foundation will now launch a video monitoring project at a study area located at a vulture-breeding cliff site in the Western Ghats, situated close to a town about 31 kilometres away from the city. Based on the feed, experts, who will access the footage from their offices via live streaming, will study the birds’ behaviour.
Additionally, it will also help them in analysing natural and man-made threats to these birds of prey. The project will see the involvement of techies (for camera and live streaming), mountaineers, government officials and conservationists.
Speaking more about the incident, Sunil Limaye, chief conservator of forests (wildlife), Pune division, told Mirror that they could only conclude that the egg was preyed upon the eagles as the cliff was not accessibly to macaques or other terrestrial predators. “Such predations on vultures’ eggs have not been reported. Hence, there is a need for round-the-clock monitoring,” he said, adding that although the incident is only a part of food chain and nature takes care of the maintenance of balance, monitoring will make scope for intervention, if and when needed.
While the the veterinary erary use of Diclofenac is primarily responsible for the drastic reduction in population, there still are some sites in the state where these birds breed. However, there is no available data on their nesting habits during the breeding season. Moreover, they nest on high ledges on cliffs, which are highly inaccessible.
“At times, these vultures vanish for a few days and their nests have other occupants. However, the duration of the same is unknown. The idea is to look at parental contribution, frequency of feeding and risks and disturbances,” said Dr Satish Pande, founder of Ela Foundation.
Given that the cliff’s rocky terrain will be challenging, it will need expert climbers. “We will need long-length ropes, as we do not know how low we will have to reach. We will also need anchoring equipment. Although it’s the ideal time to study vultures, the heat will also be challenging for climbers,” said Amodh Moghe of Mountain Quest, which will be providing climbers.