A conservationist working patiently to save vultures in State

Conservation of the vultures is necessary to maintain the balance in the eco­system, says S. Bharathidasan, award­winning conservationist. For several years now, the vulture in the State has had a human shadowing it, watching over the bird of prey in the Mudumalai— Sathyamangalam area. Along with the Forest Department, he has been counting its numbers, trying to stop use of diclofenac in animals so that vultures will not eat the meat and die. S. Bharathidasan, one of the founders and current secretary of Arulagam, a non­profit organisation that seeks to conserve nature for the benefit of all living things, recently received the Biodiversity Hot Spot Hero award from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) during the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) World Conservation Congress held in Honolulu. On his interest in conserving vultures, he said that he always liked to take care of those neglected. Vultures caught his attention because they are fast vanishing from the countryside. Conservation of the vultures is necessary to maintain the balance in the eco­system, he said. Though the government had banned the drug in 2008, the practice of prescribing the medicine continues. “We have been creating awareness among cattle owners, drug controllers and milk societies and asking them not to use this the that causes harm to vultures,” he said. “At last count, we found Tamil Nadu had only 120 vultures in all, and among the red­headed and long­billed varieties each has only under 20. The white­backed vulture makes up the rest. Only when there are at least 800 pairs of vultures can we take a breather,” said S. Bharathidasan, who along with volunteers and the government has been working continuously for vultures that lay one egg once every three years. “Chances of survival too are a question. Last year, of the 52 nests that we watched over, only chicks in 39 survived. We need long­term continuous monitoring,” he added. Vultures usually begin nesting in October­November and the eggs hatch by February. Says it is necessary to save the bird of prey to maintain the balance in the eco­system

Source: The Hindu 26th Sep., 2016