In a collaborative effort led by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) and Department of Forests and Soil Conservation (DoFSC) under the Ministry of Forests and Environment, Government of Nepal, a renewed and updated Vulture Conservation Action Plan (VCAP) for the years 2023 to 2027 has been developed. This comprehensive strategy, developed in partnership with Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN), aims to reinforce the ongoing preservation of vulture populations in Nepal, a critical need due to the escalating challenges they face.
Building upon the success of previous action plans 2009-2013 and 2015-2019, the revised VCAP shows substantial progress in vulture conservation. This updated plan, constructed after extensive consultations and meetings, seeks to consolidate on the progress made while addressing existing gaps and emerging challenges. The primary goal of the plan is to restore and sustain viable wild vulture populations in Nepal.
One of the most pressing issue of vultures being endangered due to the use of harmful Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) in livestock treatment. Notably, Gyps species, including the White-rumped Vulture, Slender-billed Vulture, Red-headed Vulture, and Indian Vulture are classified as Critically Endangered and Egyptian Vulture as Endangered. VCAP identifies these species as focal points for targeted conservation efforts. The strategy comprises various pivotal initiatives, including the strengthening of the world’s first Vulture Safe Zone and intensive monitoring of toxic drug use. This involves preventing NSAIDs poisoning, control of deliberate poisoning of cattle carcasses, ensuring a safe food supply for vultures, conserving habitats, and safeguarding against threats like power infrastructures. The plan also emphasizes stakeholder engagement, capacity building, ecological monitoring, and movement tracking through telemetry tagging.
Both Government and non-governmental entities have supported this cause. Dr. Maheshwar Dhakal, Former director General of the DNPWC stresses the need for collective commitment and cooperation of all stakeholders to safeguard these vital birds, as they play a crucial role in maintaining ecosystem health. Divesh Mani Tripathi, Director General of the DoFSC, urges recognising that a substantial portion of the vulture population resides outside protected areas, and believes that this action plan will play a pivotal role in preserving vulture habitats and ensuring a secure food source for these magnificent birds.
“The implementation of the VCAP is facilitated through a structured framework. The Nepal Vulture Recovery Committee (NVRC) takes the lead by coordinating efforts at the central level, while the Regional Steering Committee (RSC) and Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction (SAVE) provide advisory roles and support. International organisations such as RSPB contribute both technically and financially. A comprehensive network comprising technical teams, committees, and partnerships ensures the effective execution of the plan at local, regional, and international scales” says Ishana Thapa, Chief Executive Officer, BCN.
As Nepal embarks on this renewed conservation journey, the collaborative commitment of stakeholders emerges as a cornerstone for the survival and thriving of these magnificent vulture species.