Recovery of vulture population in roosting and scavenging areas of Bastar and Bijapur, Chhattisgarh, India

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Sushil Kumar Dutta
Muntaz Khan
P.R.S. Nagi
Santosh Durgam
Surabhi Dutta


Chhattisgarh is home to seven of the nine vulture species in India. One reason for this high vulture diversity is the presence of large herds of bovines numbering over 11 million individuals (ratio of human to bovine population is approximately 0.38), from which carcasses are disposed off in the open for scavengers. The late 1990s saw large scale decimation of vulture population, and since then there have been few studies with no sighting estimates available.  In this study, concurrent sighting records were collected from different locations of southern Chhattisgarh and corroborated to develop conservative sighting estimates for sympatric populations of Gyps bengalensis and Gyps indicus. We present the first report on population recovery, with an estimated 30–35 Gyps bengalensis & 20–25 Gyps indicus in/ around Rudraram of Bijapur and 18 Gyps bengalensis & five Gyps indicus at Jamguda village of Bastar. Krishna Swami Gutta hill is identified as a nesting-roosting habitat for both species, for which six scavenging areas were identified in Bastar and Bijapur districts. The human/bovine population ratio for Bastar is 0.4, similar to the state ratio, while in Bijapur the ratio is 1.07, which justifies considering Bijapur as a conservation refuge. The few vultures that survived the diclofenac catastrophe in wild habitats most likely consumed wildlife carcasses that sustained a residual population. In these areas, the age-old practise of disposing off dead domesticated bovines away from settlements near reserve forests may also have supported the recovery of vulture population.

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