A National-level Conference on Vulture Conservation and Reintroduction in Madhya Pradesh (MP) was co-organized by the MP Forest Department, Van Vihar National Park-Zoo and Bombay Natural History Society on the 20th and 21st March 2023 at RCVP Noronha Academy for Administration and Management, Bhopal. The Chief Guest was Shri J.N. Kansotiya, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary Forests, Madhya Pradesh.
The conference was very well attended by senior officials from veterinary departments and Animal Husbandry. As well as Forest Dept. These included Shri R.K. Gupta, IFS, PCCF (HoFF), M.P., Shri J.S. Chauhan, IFS, PCCF (WL) and Chief Wildlife Warden, M.P., and Dr. R.K. Mehiya, Director, Animal Husbandry Department, M.P. The two-day conference was attended by representatives from the MP Forest Department, Animal Husbandry Department, Food and Drugs Administration, Archaeological Survey of India, Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Wildlife Institute of India, and NGOs such as the Bombay Natural History Society, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, WWF-India, and Arulagam.
The 20 expert presentations led to agreement of a Resolution from the meeting, moderated by Smt. Padmapriya Balakrishnan, IFS, Field Director, Van Vihar National Park-Zoo, on “Establishment of Vulture-Safe Districts Within Vulture Hotspots of M.P.” and chaired by the Chief Wildlife Warden of M.P.
It was highly significant that the Animal Husbandry Department recognised its vital role in vulture conservation and publicly pledged to ensure that all veterinarians of the state would not use vulture-toxic veterinary drugs, including diclofenac, aceclofenac, ketoprofen, and nimesulide, for the treatment of animals, and would promote only the use of the vulture-safe drugs meloxicam and tolfenamic acid. It was also announced that persons without a formal veterinary degree would no longer be authorized to treat an animal. Moreover, the Drug Controlling Authority announced strict enforcement and follow-up against any illegal manufacture, sale, or distribution of the banned vulture-toxic drug diclofenac for veterinary use, as well as against the over-the-counter sale of other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which are categorized in the Schedule H of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.
The MP Forest Department pledged its continued commitment towards vulture conservation in the state, including continuing to support the Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre in Bhopal. To monitor survival of wild vultures and thereby assess the safety for potential releases, the Bombay Natural History Society proposed the initiation of satellite tagging of wild vultures, which was received positively by all stakeholders.