Captive breeding of endangered vulture species successful

Guwahati: Raising hopes of saving it from extinction, two of the most rare and critically-endangered species of vultures have been bred successfully in captivity at a conservation centre in Assam, officials announced on Sunday.

A nestling each of the White-backed species and Slender-billed ones have hatched in captivity at the centre, located 40 kms from here at Rani, state principal conservator of forest (wildlife) Suresh Chand said.

Born more than four months ago, the nestlings are healthy now.

Suresh said Slender-billed vulture has a special significance as the species is now mainly confined to the state and has almost disappeared from most of its distribution range in India which was from Himachal Pradesh to Assam.

Regarded as the most endangered vulture in the country, only an estimated 1000 birds remain in the wild.

Established in 2007 as a collaborative project of the Assam forest department and Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), the centre houses 25 White-backed ones and 22 Slender-billed species, most of which were caught from the wild as juveniles. The birds take almost five years to reach adulthood.

Conservationist Sachin Ranade, who is supervising the project, said the successful breeding has given them confidence that their husbandry and care protocols for the birds are good.