Release & Tagging of Wild Vultures in Nepal

Ten wild white-rumped vultures have been caught, tagged and released, and eight more birds from the breeding centre were tagged and released, by the Government of Nepal, Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN) and other conservation organisations. Two of the released birds were captive-bred juveniles, and six were captive-reared adults.

BCN team tagging and ringing the birds

A formal program was organised in the Jatayu Restaurant Office, Kawasoti, Nawalparasi, chaired by DB Chaudhary, Coordinator, Jatayu Restaurant Management Committee and the chief guest was Dr. Ram Chandra Kandel, Director General, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation along with special guests Prem Shanker Mardaniya – Deputy Mayor, Kawasoti Municipality, Prakash Dhungana – President, Buffer Zone Council, Hari Bhadra Acharya – Chief Conservation Officer, Chitwan National Park, Sashi Kumar Karki – Lieutenant Colonel, Nepal Army, Ishana Thapa – CEO, Bird Conservation Nepal, Dr. Babu Ram Lamichhane – Chief, Biodiversity Conservation Center, National Trust for Nature Conservation, Hem Raj Acharya – Assistant Ecologist, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Ganesh Prasad Tiwari and Shanta Magar Assistant Conservation Officer – Chitwan National Park, Sharad Adhikari – Assistant Forest Officer, Division Forest Office, Kawasoti and other dignitaries  from local ward office, president from different Buffer zone user Committee, Buffer Zone Community Forest, local stakeholders and community people.

A summary of the Vulture Release Programme was presented by Ankit Bilash Joshi, Vulture Conservation Program Manager, BCN.  Ishana Thapa, BCN’s CEO, highlighted “Vulture conservation work over two decades in Nepal has shown significant progress, also monitoring of the satellite tagged birds has helped us better understand their survival and mortality factors, giving us confidence that it is fast becoming the time to declare the true Vulture Safe Zone (VSZ) in the near future”.

Director General, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Dr. Ram Chandra Kandel said “We are proud to say that vulture conservation in Nepal has been well recognised all over and multi stakeholder efforts are needed beyond the National Park and wildlife reserve for the prolonged vulture conservation and sustainable management of the VSZ.” Deputy Mayor of Kawasoti Municipality Prem Shanker Mardaniya also assured that “local government will support vulture conservation work whichever way they can and will commit allocating budget for the conservation in coming years also.” DB Chaudhary, Coordinator, Jatayu Restaurant Management Committee added “Local community has and will always walk together for vulture conservation and is proud to release further captive vultures from this vulture safe feeding site ensuring to provide safe food for these important birds.”

Director General, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation giving an address

Opening the release aviary door

After the short speeches, the delegation walked to the release site, where the chief guest pulled the rope from beside the hide, opening the release aviary door. A buffalo carcass was placed outside the feeding site close to the aviary door to attract wild vultures and encourage the captive birds outside the release aviary. Within five minutes, the first captive bird flew through the open gate and started feeding with wild birds. Others were more nervous, and walked hesitantly along the aviary door. However, within half an hour, all the birds left the release aviary to feed with the wild vultures. Just one bird returned inside the aviary and stayed inside overnight, flying out the following day. All the released vultures flew and perched to roost along with wild vultures. As with previous releases, the birds have been fitted with GPS telemetry tags in order to follow their movements and monitor their survival.

Delegates quietly awaiting the birds exit from the aviary

Hesitant birds exiting the aviary

Ten wild white-rumped vultures (8 Adult and 2 Sub-adults) were trapped and satellite tagged on 2 November 2021. By GPS-tagging birds (with tags supplied and transported by the RSPB) and investigating the cause of mortality of any vultures that die, birds can be monitored and mortality from diclofenac or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as well as other threats, can be quantified.

There will be more information and updates (including on ways in which the release methods are being improved, tagging results and the survival of released and wild birds) presented at the upcoming SAVE Open-Day on 2nd December. Everyone is welcome to  register here.

Contributed by Ankit Bilash Joshi, BCN

Photo credits: Bird Conservation Nepal

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