Vulture restaurant in Punjab on brink

Vulture restaurant in Punjab on brink


The routine operations at the centre have come to a near standstill due to lack of funds. The developments that unfold pose a grave threat to prospects of breeding and conservation of these natural scavengers.

According to the sources, since 2013 the vulture restaurant project hasn’t received any funds. The multiple feeding platforms that were set up to ensure a dedicated supply of carcass for vultures today present a deserted look. A laboratory was put in place to test food supplies to feed vultures. The laboratory is nearly abandoned sans a technician or a veterinarian to carry out the scientific testing of the meat.

The vulture restaurant was opened in village Nayarhi in Dhar Kalan area in 2009. The area in Pathankot was chosen for this unique concept after a survey indicated the presence of at least 250 vultures in and around the area.

The entire idea was to ensure a congenial habitat for these endangered species where they would have a steady supply of water and dedicated feeding platforms where dead carcass, after due testing, would be fed to vultures on an everyday basis. The multiple water points at the centre have dried and feeding platforms do not provide meat anymore.

The project was set up with the assistance of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest and the Punjab government. District Forest Officer Rajesh Gupta said the project hasn’t received funds since 2013, for which they have written to the authorities concerned. He said the department has been informed that the laboratory does not have a specialist for testing.

The most worrying part in all these has been the meat supply for vultures. The meat has to be tested for traces of drug diclofenac, a commonly used painkiller, before being put up at the feeding platforms. Without this mandatory testing, vultures have been at a grave risk. Researchers have linked the extinction of vultures to the use of diclofenac in cattles.

Veterinarians have extensively used this painkiller and traces of this drug remains in the body of the animal even after its death. Once the carcass was consumed by vultures, it traveled into the bird’s blood leading to kidney and liver failure and eventually death. The drug has been banned in India.

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