Dwin­dling vul­tures cost more than you think

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Ku­mar Samb­hav Shri­vas­tava let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

As Na­ture’s pri­mary scav­engers, vul­tures have al­ways been cred­ited with per­form­ing a use­ful ser­vice to so­ci­ety and now sci­en­tists have put a value to it, high­light­ing that the birds’ de­clin­ing pop­u­la­tion could be costlier than thought.

A re­cent study by the In­ter­na­tional Union for Con­ser­va­tion of Na­ture (IUCN) es­ti­mates that 600 vul­tures con­sume the same amount of an­i­mal waste as a medium util­ity plant re­quired to dis­pose it. The In­dia of­fice of IUCN has ar­rived at a value based on the scaveng­ing ser­vices: A vul­ture is worth Rs 6.96 lakh in ur­ban In­dia and Rs 5.85 lakh in ru­ral ar­eas.

In the past two decades, the vul­ture pop­u­la­tion in the coun­try has de­clined dras­ti­cally. To­day less than 1% vul­tures are left of their pop­u­la­tion in the early 1980s. “Vul­ture num­bers de­clined from about 40 mil­lion in the 1980s to less than 0.1 mil­lion now. This is the steep­est de­cline in the pop­u­la­tion of any species,” said Vibhu Prakash, prin­ci­pal sci­en­tist at the Bom­bay Nat­u­ral His­tory So­ci­ety.

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