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A red-headed vulture (Sarcogyps calvus) soars high above the Pokhara Valley, in the foothills of the Himalayas, Nepal. Historically common throughout the Indian subcontinent and in parts of South East Asia, the population of this very large bird is an estimated 200-300 individuals in Nepal. All vultures are notorious for their carrion diet, and red-headed vultures are no exception. They feed on a variety of carcasses, including cattle. Extensive farming practices and and the widespread use of diclofenac, a drug given to cows by farmers, are major contributors to the decline in vulture numbers in Nepal. When vultures feed on drug-contaminated carcasses, rapid kidney failure and death ensues. Despite the passing of legislation banning the use of diclofenac, a number of additional conservation measures were undertake: the use non-toxic substitutes, the establishing of captive breeding and feeding centers. My hope is that we will continue to marvel at the magnificence of the red-headed vulture in the skies of the Himalayas for a very long time.
- ©2016 Karim Sahai - fullLife.no
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