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Experts recommend safe zones for vultures due to very low population

Karachi, January 18, 2016 (PPI-OT): Baanhn Beli and IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, organized a workshop inviting stakeholders to put together a national vulture conservation strategy to arrest the years of decline in the species population across Pakistan. The workshop was attended by representatives of the government, NGOs, civil society and academia, as well as national and international delegates, and organized as part of an ongoing Vulture Conservation Project funded by the USAID Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Program.

Ms. Aban Marker Kabraji, Regional Director, IUCN Asia, welcomed the efforts underway for vulture conservation and suggested government declare safe zones for vulture conservations, as well as projects aimed at increasing the numbers of vultures in the country. She cited examples of others countries where decline in species had been a result of numerous factors, but “in the case of vultures, we know it’s a certain chemical Diclofenac fed to cattle that has resulted in the rapid decline in their (vulture) numbers,” she explained.

She added that India, Bangladesh and Nepal had arrested the decline by taking measures such as creation of safe zones and putting a ban on Diclofenac. “The population of vultures has crashed from millions to a few hundred thousand in South Asia,” she disclosed. “If the Diclofenac is removed from the system the population can increase. It has already been banned in many countries in South Asia,” she observed. She suggested the central and provincial governments declare safe zones for vultures and develop government-led projects where IUCN could assist as a partner.

Mr. Abdul Munaf Qaimkhani, Deputy Inspector General Forests, Ministry of Climate Change, Government of Pakistan said that in 90s hundreds of vultures could be seen at any particular site, “but currently nesting sites of the Egyptian and White back vultures are under severe threat facing food scarcity”. He hoped that the National and Regional Recovery Committee would jointly work to save this essential bird hat served a major purpose in the ecosystem.

Dr. Scott Perkin, Head, Natural Resource Group, IUCN Asia said that the challenge concerning vultures was one of the most neglected ones. “In Pakistan ground breaking research had been carried out into the role of Diclofenac. It was here in Pakistan that the experts came to know that the major cause of the Vultures’ decline has been the use of Diclofenac,” Dr. Perkin noted.

Pakistan, he added, still “has a significant population of vultures and could make significant contribution on the regional and global levels. He emphasized the development of vulture safe zones and captive breeding since population of vultures gad gone too low. He also strongly recommended the need for strengthening the enforcement of the ban on the Diclofenac

In his welcome address Mr. Mahmood Akthar Cheema, Country Representative IUCN Pakistan, appreciated the generous support of the USAID to the project and commended the efforts of Baanhn Beli towards implementing. He was of the view that the role of vultures could not be ignored for a healthy environment. He said that the Vulture is a unique bird that is bestowed with a natural ability to absorb all types of diseases and viruses are dissolved in its stomach.

Mr. Younus Bhandani, Director, Baanhn Beli thanked the stakeholders and the experts for coming together for information and experience sharing so that the strategy could be augmenting for better results. He informed that Baanhn Beli is also involving local community and local government to make this strategy a success.

For more information, contact:
George Sadiq
Programme Officer
Education, Communication and Outreach
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Pakistan Country Office
1, Bath Island Road,
Tel: +92-21-35861540
Fax: +92-21-35835760, +92-21-35761448, +92-21-35870287
Cell: +92-301-2931184
Email: george.sadiq@iucn.org
Website: www.iucn.org

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