Kumram Bheem Asifabad: The long-billed vulture (Gyps indicus) – the scavenger bird of Bejjur forests — has been chosen as the Unique Bird by Forest department for 2017, fetching the endangered species a bit more importance.
Authorities will take up initiatives to conserve the vultures, which play an instrumental role in the ecology by feeding on the dead and decomposed. Forest Department officials told Telangana Today that a postal stamp and a special cover of this endangered bird species would be released in Nehru Zoological Park of Hyderabad on October 6 as part of the ongoing Wildlife Week (October 2-8). Activities such as essay-writing, elocution competitions and awareness rallies in villages, among many oters, have been planned, an official said.
Vultures were once thought to have vanished and the Telangana government had announced cash reward Rs 1 lakh to those who could help officials trace the scavenger bird. Around 10 vultures were spotted by Bejjur Forest Range Officer M Ram Mohan on Palarapu cliffs on the outskirts of Nandigoan village, Penchikalpet mandal, at the confluence of Peddavagu and Pranhita, a tributary of Godavari in 2013.
Since then, Forest authorities took a slew of measures to protect the vultures, which are closely related to the Griffon Vulture. A colony was erected and awareness created among locals over the role of this scavenger bird in the ecology. A vulture conservation project, funded by the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA), began in January of 2015. Similarly, a field biologist and five bird trackers were appointed.
At present, 20 adults, five immature and seven chicks can be spotted at the two-acre fenced colony. They are being provided with suitable feed. Last year, the amount was raised from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 24 lakh for the conservation of the bird that can prevent microbial growth due to which some epidemics break out in forests, indirectly affecting humans.