Six captive-reared White-rumped Vultures from the Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centre, Kasara, Chitwan National Park were released to a pre-release aviary built at the Vulture Safe Feeding Site, Pithauli, Nawalparasi in 15 April 2017. The chief guest Man Bahadur Khadka, Director General, Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation released the first bird in to the release site. Then, Govinda Gajurel, Member Secretary at National Trust for Nature Conservation, Dr. Narendra Man Babu Pradhan, Chief Executive Officer, Bird Conservation Nepal, Bed Khadka, Acting Chief Conservation Officer, Chitwan National Park, Toby Heath Galligan, Senior Conservation Scientist, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Namuna Community Forest and Jatayu Restaurant people released the birds in to the aviary. These vultures are surplus females (ones known not to be paired and breeding) determined by molecular sexing of the all vultures at the Centre. Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centre was established in Chitwan National Park in 2008. The Centre is a collaborative project of Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC)/Chitwan National Park, National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) and Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN); with kind and continuous support from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). The released vultures have been fitted with satellite transmitters as well, ready for release. In the pre-release aviary these vultures will exercise their wings and observe wild vultures feeding. Sometime in the future the door of the pre-release aviary will be opened and these vultures will be allowed to leave.
Only vultures can show us that our Vulture Safe Zone is truly vulture-safe; therefore, BCN team use satellite telemetry to track a sample of vultures remotely and in the field. Earlier this week, we fitted satellite transmitters to six wild adult White-rumped Vultures in Pithauli, Nawalparasi, buffer zone of Chitwan National Park. These vultures have already shown us that they are alive and well by attending animal carcasses at the Vulture Safe Feeding Site near Pithauli.
“We will track the captive-reared vultures and compare their behaviors and survival with that of wild vultures we are also tracking” said Dr. Narendra Man Babu Pradhan, CEO BCN. We can even rescue any tagged vultures that need veterinary or husbandry care; and retrieve any that may die to determine the cause of death and allow us to respond to that threat. Over the next three years, we will deploy more satellite transmitters on wild vultures and captive vultures that are to be released.
Initially, released vultures are not expected to leave the area, as they will take time to build strength in their wings. They will socialize, feed and roost with wild vultures at the Vulture Safe Feeding Site. “Eventually, the released vultures will hopefully fly away to find additional food and breeding sites in Nepal. In this way, these vultures will evaluate both Nepal’s captive breeding programme and provisional Vulture Safe Zone” said Man Bahadur Khadka, DG, DNPWC. Govinda Gajurel said the nine hatchlings at the VCBC this year make cheers for the conservation partners as well as all wishers.
After the release, formal program is chaired by D B Chaudhary, Coordinator, Jatayu Restaurant, Pithauli, Nawalparasi and brief on detail about the vulture release and its process with objective by Krishna Bhusal, Vulture Conservation Program Officer, Bird Conservation Nepal.