India-wide survey of vultures
Prompted by dramatic and worrying findings, and supported by the RSPB and the Indian Government, the BNHS conducted an India-wide survey of vultures in 2000 and compared the results with similar surveys carried out in the early 1990s.
This showed declines of the same extent found in KNP had affected Gyps spp. vultures throughout the country.
Repeated surveys in 2002 & 2003, funded by a Darwin Initiative grant to the ZSL, have shown that all three resident Gyps spp. (G. bengalensis, G. indicus and G. tenuirostris) have declined by > 97% (by > 99.5% for the Indian white-backed vulture, G. bengalensis) throughout their ranges in India, with many areas of the country now devoid of Gyps spp. vultures.
These declines continue at the startling rates of about 48% per year for the oriental white-backed and slender-billed vultures and about 22% per year for the long-billed vultures. The work of the vulture project partners and other ornithology and conservation organisations has shown that similar catastrophic declines are affecting Gyps spp. elsewhere in South Asia, such as in Pakistan and Nepal.
In addition to threatening the imminent extinction of three species of vulture, these dramatic declines present a whole range of threats, both ecologically and to human health. The absence of such important scavengers will almost certainly influence the numbers and distribution of other scavenging species.