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Two Extinct Vulture Species Spotted from Wayanad

8 December 2010 4 Comments

An exciting news has came out from the Malabar region, northern part of Kerala. The Malabar Ornithological Survey 2010 conducted by the State Forest and Wildlife Department team has spotted an Indian White-backed Vulture (Gyps Bengalensis) and a Red-headed Vulture (Sarcogyps calvus) from Wayanad. These two vulture were considered as Extinct till now. Even at the Bird Surveys by Dr. Salim Ali, these species were not recorded in Kerala forests.

Indian White-backed Vulture (Gyps Bengalensis)

Indian White-backed Vulture (Picture Courtesy: Wikipedia)

In North India, these two species were so common until 1990s. Like other vultures these are scavengers, feeding mostly from carcasses of dead animals which it finds by soaring high in thermals and spotting other scavengers. In late 1990s they all get killed by eating infected dead cattle meet. The cattle were injected Diclofenac and that’s found as the real culprit. The Ministry of Environment has tried their best to retain the population but failed miserably.

This is the second successful year for the Ornithological Survey projects by the State Forest and Wildlife Department, Kerala. Last year, in 2009, their first project was “Along the trail of Salim Ail’ – a detailed survey from Palakkad gap to Kanyakumari – through the same trail of Salim Ali. In 2010, they are conducting surveys at Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur, and Kasaragod districts.

The team also has spotted Speckled Piculet (Picumnus innominatus), Jerdon’s Baza (Aviceda jerdoni) and Olive-backed Pipit, (Anthus hodgsoni) from the region. These are also very rare sightings in Kerala and we are expecting to hear more in the coming days.

The team members, C.K. Vishnudas, Raju S., and Vinayan P.A., had started their field survey in Kurichiad range, under the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary on November 2. Kazhukankolly in the Kurichaiad range is the only known habitat of the critically endangered Indian White-backed Vulture (Gyps Bengalensis) in the State, the report says.


  • Natasha Rao said:

    Really interesting bird.

  • anuja s said:

    Protect all sanctuaries and maintain well.

  • Vignesh said:

    It is indeed heartening to have spotted these magnificent birds of prey. These majestic birds were in plenty around the 80’s and have experienced a rapid decline, thanks to Diclofenac…. KUDOS to this discovery.

    Hoping for more good news.


  • Sarath said:

    Congo! What a thrilling news 🙂

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