31 Aug 2017
Conservationists from India and Nepal have come together to plan a transboundary, sustainable answer to the question: how can you improve the outlook of a bird family that has already suffered a population crash of 99%?
By Khima Nand Balodi
Asian vultures have undergone a catastrophic decline in recent decades, with populations crashing by as much as 99%. In India and Nepal, four of nine vulture species are Critically Endangered, largely as a result of poisoning by a drug commonly used to treat livestock, diclofenac. Since 2006, diclofenac has been banned in these countries for veterinary use, but it is still being purchased on the black market, and vultures are still struggling to rebound in the wake of their population crash. The Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) - an inititive co-created by BirdLife in 1985 - has funded projects in both Nepal, in 2010 and 2013, and India, in 2016, to improve the outlook for these overlooked species. In March this year, a CLP Learning Exchange brought a project team member from both countries together to share their knowledge.
Khima Nand Balodi, who led a project to assess the population status and threats facing vultures in Uttarakhand, India in 2016, visited Bhupal Nepali, who has worked to strengthen Vulture Safe Zones in Nawalparasi, and to enhance community-based conservation in western Nepal. Here, Khima shares his Learning Exchange experiences.