BNHS-India, in association with Rio Tinto and BirdLife International, is set to establish a vulture safe zone in the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) for this joint project was recently signed in the presence of BNHS and Rio Tinto officials at Hornbill House in Mumbai.

Bunder Diamond Project of Rio Tinto in Madhya Pradesh is partnering BNHS for the conservation of vultures in the state.

Vulture safe zone

The Bundelkhand region lies between the Indo-Gangetic plains in the north and Vindhya Range in the south. This is a five-year partnership that will work in an area of 30,000 sq km identified as a potential VSZ, where targeted awareness activities and cattle carcass sampling will be conducted.

According to a statement, this will help ensure that no diclofenac or other veterinary drugs toxic to vultures are present in carcasses.

A zone so created can be an ideal place to reintroduce captive bred vultures back into the wild. In future, other areas nearby can be converted into similar VSZs so that a combined larger area is eventually available for vultures to survive and multiply as a self-sustaining population.

A dedicated team will work for the creation of VSZ in close association with local NGOs and the Government.

The objectives of the project are to establish diclofenac-free zone in an area of 30,000 sq km near the Bunder site, including parts of Chattarpur, Tikamgarh, Ashoknagar, Vidisha, Sagar, Damoh, Panna and Satna districts and to implement a targeted advocacy and awareness programme.

This will monitor the prevalence of diclofenac and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in cattle carcasses in the proposed VSZ and monitor Gyps vulture populations in the proposed VSZ.

The Vulture Action Plan 2006 of the Ministry of Environment & Forest, Government of India and South Asian Vulture Recovery Plan 2004, was initiated after observing the drastic fall in vulture numbers and based on advocacy by organisations such as BNHS.

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