The Critically Endangered White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis in Sigur Plateau, Western Ghats, India: Population, breeding ecology, and threats

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Arockianathan Samson
Balasundaram Ramakrishnan


The present study aimed to assess the population status, breeding ecology, and conservation threats of Critically Endangered White-rumped Vulture in Sigur Plateau, Tamil Nadu, India from June 2011 to May 2012. The population of White-rumped vulture was estimated in the roosting and nesting sites twice in a month. Nesting colonies were systematically visited four times in a month during the breeding season to study nesting and breeding ecology. Carcasses and vulture counting was done by opportunistic count method. Two sets of questionnaires namely ‘precise and closed’ and ‘broad and open-ended’ were developed to asses the people’s perception on vulture conservation.  The overall population of White-rumped Vultures was estimated about 70 to 115 individuals.  In total, 68 nests were observed in two nesting colonies. Most of the nests (97%) were recorded on Terminalia arjuna and only 3% on Spondias mangifera. Among the 68 constructed nests, 34 were incubated and 30 chicks were fledged out from the nests with 88% breeding success. Feeding behavior was observed from 28 carcasses, Vultures were attended only 15 caracasses an average of 56.04±3.29 individuals of vultures were recorded. Interestingly, Elephant (61.8±5.1) and Indian Gaur (58.5±0.3) carcasses were attracted in greater numbers of vultures in susiquent days (3.5±0.2) than other carcasses. People’s attitude to vulture conservation was positive and useful in 90.82% of the cases (n=99). Cattle carcass disposal method favored to vultures in these regions.  The Sigur Plateau to be declared as “Vulture Sanctuary” in order to legally protect and conserve the country’s southern-most wild and viable Critically Endangered White-rumped Vulture population in the landscape.

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