Rare Vulture Species Escaped Identification for Years Due to Lack of Funds

Despite conservation efforts for rare species gaining momentum in the country, wildlife teams in South Punjab failed to detect the presence of a rare, nearly extinct vulture species for years.

Recently, a group of wildlife documentarians, spotted a colony of rare Egyptian and Russian griffon vultures, previously believed to have been extinct, in the desert city of Yazman, of Bahawalpur District, while filming a documentary on the wildlife of the desert area.

Many are enthralled to catch sight of these rare vulture species sitting on trees and eating camel meat, since many believed that they were extinct in Pakistan.

It is a pity that our government agencies could not conduct extensive surveys to detect the presence of these creatures.

Details about the different species of vultures, including their actual numbers, nesting patterns and breeding habits, can be easily determined by a comprehensive survey, which employs the latest surveillance technology.

This technology, however, is out of reach of the government bodies, who cite a lack of funding for nature conservation projects as being a paramount reason behind the little attention that is given to research on endangered species.

“Sadly, we are neither provided with the advanced equipment nor the extravagant funding that is needed to carry out wildlife research on such a large scale,” regretted a former director of the Punjab Wildlife Department. “Therefore, we have no choice but to rely solely on the reports presented to us by NGOs.”

In fact, much of the information that exists about the diverse species of vultures in Pakistan, has been gathered by different NGOs, which are aiming to conserve 33 male and female vultures from the white back species.

Almost 99 per cent of the white back species have already become extinct in Pakistan and have been put on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), amongst 7 other vulture species like the long beak, red head, and small Egyptian, facing extinction.

“So far, we are only focusing on conserving the white back species in Punjab,” informed Jamshed Chaudhry, a representative of an NGO, who also heads the Changa Manga Vulture Breeding Centre. He further added, “while our recent survey has identified 50 to 60 vultures in the Tharparkar area, it is unfortunate that Punjab Wildlife is incapable of conducting the required research.”

His revelations were confirmed by Dr Misbah Sarwar, the Deputy Director of the Wildlife Research Institute at Gutwala, Faisalabad, who conceded that no survey on vultures had been undertaken by the provincial wildlife department during the preceding four years.

“We have come to know of three new kinds of vultures recently. Hopefully, if the government arranges for a proper survey, we might discover more details about the whereabouts of these mysterious creatures,” she said.

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