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Consuming pesticide contaminated flesh 11 vultures died in Dhakuakhana on April 23, 2013

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Consuming pesticide contaminated flesh 11 vultures died in Dhakuakhana on April 23, 2013   MONOJ GOGOI     The sudden death of 11 vultures on April 23, 2013 in Bagicha gaon near the Sub-Division Office (SDO) of Dhakukhana under Lakhimpur district created a huge sensation among the nature lovers across the state. According to sources, the 11 vultures comprised of white-backed vultures (gyps africanus) and slender-billed vultures (gyps tenuirostris) died in the morning due consumption of goat carcass on which furadan, a kind of pesticide was applied. Sources added that the goat died due to the bites of stray dogs and in vengeance, to kill the dogs, the owner of the got applied furadan on the carcass and left it in an open field. After consuming the carcass of the goat the vultures started to die. First the local people of Bagicha village witnessed the carcusses of the vultures and informed Mega Mix, a Dhakuakhana-based NGO for conservation of nature.     Devajit Phukan, the secretary of Mega Mix told, ” Immediately after we got information from the villagers we reached the site and found 8 carcasses of white backed vultures and three of slender billed vultures among the 11. We also recovered 3 injured vultures there”. Phukan also told that 18-25 vultures and 6 nestings were observed by them in the area and feared that some parents vultures might died in this pathetic incident. He told the vulture was a Scheduled I species, in the Wildlife (Protection)Act 1972, which needed highest protection had been drastically declining for various causes and it was also proved by a study done in the 90’s by Indian Birds Conservation Network (IBCN) under Dr Arshad Rehmani of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).     Renowned onithologist Dr Hilloljyoti Singha condemned the incident and told that in india 9 species of vultures could be found and out of that only 3 species – slender-billed, white backed and long-billed were found in Assam. All these three species which were found in Assam were enlisted as the critically endangered species by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). For increase of the population of vultures various steps had been taken by the government and non governmental organisations and a vulture breeding centre was also established in Rani of Assam. In such situation death of 11 vultures together was a very sensitive matter. Dr Singha told that diclophanac, a drug used as pain killer for cattle was very dangerous to the vulture. Now though it had been banned its use continued surreptitiously. “Although the owner of the goat was ignorant, he should be punished as his motive was not good in this context. His intention was to kill animal though it may be stray dogs”.     Dr Ranjita Bania of Fisheries Research Centre (FRC), Assam Agriculture University (AAU) Jorhat condemned the incident and told that it became a challenge to the government and concerned NGOs that till today most of the people unaware about the conservation of critically endangered species. She told besides food and habitat loss of vultures this types of incidents were also primarily responsible for drastic reduction of vulture population. She also stated that a similar incident was occurred in the campus of Dibrugarh University in 2003.   The Deputy Commissioner of Lakhimpur Dr Anuwaruddin Chaudhary, also a very renowned wildlife expert rushed to the incident site along with top forest officials of the district. He took the matter very seriously and indicated that the owner of the goat may be punished according to law. The sample of the dead vultures would be sent to captivity centre at Guwahati. On the other hand Mega Mix, in collaboration of district administration organised a condolence and awareness meeting in Dhakuakhana in the evening.

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