MITHI: Baanhn Beli with the support of Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) celebrated the “International Vultures Day” on September 4, in Nagarparkar town as part of the ongoing vulture conservation project which focuses on to bring back vultures to this indigenous hotspot of vultures. This day was celebrated at Baanhn Beli office Nagarparkar, Tharparkar and the event was attended by several hundred people from different walks of life including the women from different areas.
Speaking on the occasion Ms. Afia Salam The president of Baanhn Beli gave an overview of the day and observed that ‘vultures played a significant role in our ecosystem’. ” Vultures are equipped with a digestive system that contains special acids that are able to dissolve anthrax, botulism and even cholera bacteria” she said. . The excess rotting carcasses can result in an increase of scavenging carnivores, both wild and feral, which lead to further consequences caused by an imbalance in the system and the spread of other harmful diseases like rabies’ she added.
Speaking on the occasion, the IUCN ‘s coordinator Naveed Ali Soomro shared the project achievements and experience by highlighting the importance of Ecosystem Restoration and Vultures and urged that there was need of the hour to protect the rare birds. He shared that he vultures were found in whole world, particularly in South Asia, from one and half decade their population was decreasing due to the abundant availability of livestock carcasses and suitable habitat.
“However, in the past two decades, South Asian vultures have been one of the most rapidly declining birds in the world, with some species’ populations recorded to have declined by more than 95%, since the early 1990″ he added. He said that vultures had faced a sharp decline in not only South Asia but also in Pakistan over a decade now. ” A key factor responsible for this loss has been the diclofenac drug administered to cattle and livestock, which later effects vultures when the latter consumes the carcass” he said and added that due to this finding, Diclofenac was banned for use on domestic livestock in Pakistan in 2006, but despite the ban, diclofenac was still being used on animals today. ” Apart from the above reason of decline, habitat loss with indiscriminate tree lopping and food declines are also the reason contributing towards their steep population decline” he said and added that there was a real risk that several vulture species would become extinct in the near future unless effective conservation actions were implemented across the range of these birds.
Mr Soomro said that Thar was one of the last strongholds for vultures in the wild in Asia, and was therefore critical to the survival of this species. ” The decline in vultures has resulted in the loss of critically important ecosystem services” he noted and said that the vultures were the largest scavengers responsible for removing carrion, and a reduction in their numbers has caused a growing range of health concerns and an enormous waste disposal problem. “He said that the animal carcasses that were once consumed by vultures were now being left to rot. In the absence of vultures there has been a significant rise in diseases such as brucellosis, tuberculosis, rabies and anthrax diseases. “The removal of carcasses also prevents the contamination of water bodies, hence another impact of the decline in vultures has been groundwater contamination” he added. .
“This is a time to not only reflect on the importance of vultures and the essential role they play in a healthy ecosystem, but also a time to spread awareness and take necessary action to prevent the further decline of vultures in South Asia and particularly in Pakistan.
The vulture conservation project in Thar takes a participatory approach and involves local communities and NGOs such as Baanhn Beli, as well as the Sindh Wildlife Department, Government of Sindh. Other stakeholders include Livestock and Education departments, Government of Sindh, and Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan. SECMC is supporting this much needed initiative financially and through its commitment to sustainable development in Thar.
Speaking on the occasion Javed Samoon a local environmentalist said vulture played a key role in maintaining the ecosystem adding he said that the feathery friends could be their allies in mitigating the spread of diseases that could , otherwise infect other animals including livestock and humans. He highly lauded the efforts of the organizations, which ventured to not only save such rare birds but also to make concerted efforts to provide them with a safe atmosphere for their breeding. Mr Samoon said that villagers living within the Parkar region and other areas of the desert district had always encouraged the organizations and individuals, who stepped in to protect their environment through such healthy activities.
Allah Rahkio Khoso, EC member BB said ‘vultures are available here in Nagarparkar because of Karoonjhar hills. Mr Khoso also said that Tharparkar was a historical place which was rich in different resources and a variety of fauna and flora species that made the desert region more beautiful and attractive. He warned that any attempt to tamper with the natural beauty of the region would leave very dangerous impacts on its beauty.
Speaking on the occasion Dr. Lachman Das, the veterinary officer said that vultures played significant ecological and economic roles in protecting the environment. ” They act as nature’s garbage collectors by cleaning up carcasses and other organic waste found in the environment” he added and noted that due to their unique habits, vultures faced various threats, which included direct and indirect poisoning, habitat loss, disturbance and the shortage of food and so on.
Speaking on the occasion Mr. Abdul Rasheed Mangrio , the SHO Nagarparkar police station, said that the day was being celebrated internationally. ” This bird infect is one important part of our atmosphere and it plays a very important role” he added and Allah almighty had created everything for a particular purpose. ” It has been well explained by Jalal Uddin Roomi that every soul has been created by a particular purpose, and the very interest of that purpose has been embedded ”. So this bird is an atmosphere friendly and there is a need to save these rare birds’ he added.
Speaking on the occasion Mr. Younus Bandhani Director Baanhn Beli shared that the organization always mobilized the knowledge, know-how and practices of local communities and indigenous peoples to support their inclusion in environmental decision-making.
Dr Ashok Bakhtani the known historian and the manager Thar Foundation /SECMC said the vulture played a pivotal role in cleaning the environment as it feeds on animal carrion and prevents environment pollution and frees it from foul smell. This International Vulture Day is the great gathering by BB and IUCN that encourages the Thari people to protect and save the vulture in Tharparkar. He also shared the main causes of migration of vultures and other birds in Tharparkar. The participants during events were welcomed by the Programme Manager of Baanhn Beli Mr. Hamir Soojani, who in his brief speech highlighted the efforts they had made for the protection of the birds and atmosphere of the region.
Dr. Shankar Lal, the senior . executive member of Baanhn Beli thanked all participants for their participation in the event. The guests and participants of the event planted saplings of indigenous plants within the Baanhn Beli premises to mark the day.