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As carrion feeders vultures play an important ecological role.Â Counts and qualitative assessments were done over three seasons to assess the richness and abundance of vultures in Uttar Pradesh during 2010â€“11.Â Of nine species found in India, Uttar Pradesh has six: Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus (45.9%), Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris (25.4%), Indian Vulture (Long-billed Vulture) Gyps indicus (16.8%), White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis (10.3%), Red-headed Vulture (King Vulture) Sarcogyps calvus (0.8%) and Himalayan Griffon Gyps himalayensis (0.7%).Â We observed a total of 1993 adults and 91 juveniles, with the Tarai region having the greatest species richness and abundance.Â Nesting tree species included Silk Cotton Bombax ceiba, Teak Tectona grandis, Haldu Haldina cordifolia and Sissoo Dalbergia sissoo.Â A qualitative assessment indicated that the vulture population had declined in the past 10â€“15 years, with the main causes being the use of diclofenac, shortage of food and habitat loss.Â Disposal of dead animals was mainly done by removing carcasses to village outskirts, where dogs, crows and egrets compete with vultures.Â Such a small number of avian scavengers in a large area like Uttar Pradesh should be protected by ensuring safe and sufficient food, recovery from accidents and rehabilitation, and a protected environment.
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