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Lucknow, April 5 – Uttar Pradesh’s Jatayu Conservation and Breeding Centre (JCBC) in Maharajganj district, the world’s first conservation and breeding centre built and designed exclusively for the conservation of Asian king vulture, is ready to be inaugurated.
The Asian king vulture is critically endangered and protected under the Wildlife Protection Act.
The JCBC is spread over 1.5 hectares in the Gorakhpur forest division and is a state-of-the-art centre, worth around Rs 15 crore, with multiple aviaries (cage for birds) for vultures, like breeding and holding aviaries, nursery aviaries for juveniles, hospital and recovery aviaries for those needing medical help.
A food processing centre, where food for vultures will be prepared and checked before being fed to the birds and an incubation centre to rear eggs artificially to ensure 100 per cent results are other features.
The objective behind setting up the centre is to breed king vultures in captivity and release them in the wild to maintain a sustainable population of the species.
It is a 15-year project which aims to raise at least 40 vultures.
The red-headed vulture (Sarcogyps calvus), also known as the Asian king vulture, is localized primarily to northern India.
In 2004, the species was uplisted to ‘near threatened’ from ‘least concern’ by the IUCN.
In 2007, it was uplisted to ‘critically endangered’ in the IUCN Red List.
The widespread use of the NSAID diclofenac in veterinary medicine in India has caused its population to collapse in recent years. Veterinary usage of diclofenac has been banned in India.
Gorakhpur DFO Vikas Yadav said, “The infrastructure creation started in 2021. The first phase of the centre was meant to have complete infrastructure in place. The second phase is about breeding of vultures. The centre will have a total 10 vultures for breeding. The breeding adults will be added gradually. The forest department has partnered with Bombay Natural History Society for technical guidance.”
Male vultures are known to be defter at taking care of the chicks. Since March and April is the time when eggs hatch and young ones are out in the world, it could be keeping the male vulture population in the wild less visible in the open. But, once the period is over, one of the random males may be captured from the wild and brought to the Jatayu breeding and conservation centre for breeding.