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10 vultures found dead

Alipurduar, Feb. 11: Forest officials have found the carcasses of 10 vultures and recovered an ailing vulture from a two- hectare wooded area at Mujaffar in Cooch Behar yesterday.

The ailing vulture has been sent to Rajabhatkhawa Vulture Breeding Center for treatment. The spot where the vultures were found is 65km from here. The area is close to the Jaldapara forest where vultures are found in abundance.

The foresters suspect that a few vultures must have flown from the Jaldapara forest, which is 35km from here.

Yesterday evening, local villagers informed the forest department that they had spotted the carcasses of vultures.

Foresters suspect that the vultures died after consuming the flesh of dead cattle.

They have started a search in the area to find out if the villagers had recently discarded the carcass of any livestock.

The carcasses of seven crows were also found from the same spot this morning.

The foresters had suspected that the carcass that the vultures might have fed on was administered diclofenac, which is a veterinary drug used as a pain killer. Vultures that feed on flesh that has the drug often die of renal failure. Consumption of diclofenac is the main cause of the decline in the number of vultures.

However, the post-mortem has revealed that the vultures and crows died after consuming some poisonous substance but no diclofenac was found in the carcasses.

Apurbo Sen, the deputy field director of Buxa Tiger Reserve (West), said: “Vultures are essential to maintain the balance in nature as they are scavengers. Last night, the dead vultures (Himalayan Griffon) were brought to Rajabhatkhawa and five doctors conducted the post-mortem.”

“They have informed us that the livers of the vultures as well as the crows were damaged. This means the vultures and crows might have consumed something poisonous. The samples have been sent to a lab in Calcutta for tests and we are waiting for the reports to come,” he added.