CHITWAN:  Efforts to preserve the endangered white-rumped vultures are bearing fruit at Chitwan National Park.

The endeavour to protect vultures by establishing vulture breeding centre since 2007 is becoming successful inside the CNP.

Assistant Preservation Officer Bed Bahadur Khadka, who looks after the breeding centre, said as many as 15 vultures had laid eggs last year and one had already laid eggs at the centre this year. The white-rumped-vultures lay eggs in November/December. This year, a vulture laid eggs a bit early, Khadka said.

The centre is home to 25 male and 24 female vultures at the moment. The gender of eight hatchlings is yet to be identified. “The gender can be identified only after DNA test of the vultures isconducted,” Khadka said. The DNA test is conducted at the Agriculture and Forestry Science University Rampur Chitwan.

The vultures have been kept inside four sheds at the breeding centre. Breeding and non-breeding vultures have been kept in two separate sheds each.

The government has set the target of releasing 19 vultures in the forest from 2016 to 2019. Six vultures that were supposed to be released into their natural habitat in 2016 have been kept at a place near Jatayu Restaurant in Nawalparasi’s Namuna Madhyawarti Community Forest.

Arrangement has been made to feed the vultures along with vultures from the forest.

CNP Chief Protection officer Ramchandra Kandel said that vultures were learning to feed in nature and mingle with vultures from the forest.

The plan is to set six vultures for released in the forest in November. Kandel said that after releasing the six vultures from the place near Jatayu Restaurant, five will be kept at Jatayu Restaurant for the adaptation process.

Five vultures will be set free in the forest in 2017, and four each in 2018 and 2019. This is the first time the endangered species of vultures are set to be freed in the forest after rearing them in a human-made structure.

The white-rumped vulture lives for 40 years on average.

Vultures at the breeding center are being fed buffalo meat. A vulture consumes 30 kg buffalo meat twice a day in a month.

One veterinary doctor and three keepers have been hired at the CNP for the vultures.

  By Tilakram Rimal for THT

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