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Endangered vultures may find breeding centre in Patna

By The Assam Tribune

PATNA, April 9 (IANS): Endangered vultures may soon find a new nesting place with plans to start a breeding centre for the birds at a biological park here known for its success with gharials, says the Patna Zoo director.

Patna-based Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park is likely to be selected by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) as a breeding centre for vultures, Patna Zoo director Abhay Kumar told IANS.

CZA member secretary B.S. Bonal, during his visit here Wednesday, has said the Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park was a suitable place to start a breeding centre for vultures, according to Kumar.

"We will be happy to start a breeding centre for vultures here after the successful breeding of gharials and rhinos," Kumar told IANS.

A forest official said vultures have been spotted in the flood-prone Bihar districts of Bhagalpur, East Champaran, Supaul, Araria and Khagaria.

Haryana, West Bengal and Assam also have vulture breeding centres, but these are run by the Bombay Natural History Society with the help of Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Until 1992, as many as nine species of vultures were found in India. The decline in the population of vultures during the decade 1997-2006 is reported to be as high as 98 percent.

According to experts, a drug used to treat animals killed the scavenging birds by the millions.

The Bihar government has decided to check the use of anti-inflammatory Diclofenac in the treatment of animals as the drug accumulates in the tissues of carcasses, which the vultures feed on, leading to their death.

In May 2006, the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) had asked all state drug controllers to phase out Diclofenac from veterinary use within three months.

The DCGI issued another circular in 2008 asking all state drug controllers to direct manufacturers of Diclofenac to label it "not for veterinary use".

Vultures were declared "critically endangered species" globally in 2000.

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