Recent changes in populations of Critically Endangered Gyps vultures in India
13 Mar 2018
Populations of the White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis, Indian Vulture G. indicus and Slender-billed Vulture G. tenuirostris declined rapidly during the mid-1990s all over their ranges in the Indian subcontinent because of poisoning due to veterinary use of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac. This paper reports results from the latest in a series of road transect surveys conducted across northern, central, western and north-eastern India since the early 1990s. Results from the seven comparable surveys now available were analysed to estimate recent population trends. Populations of all three species of vulture remained at a low level. The previously rapid decline of White-rumped Vulture has slowed and may have reversed since the ban on veterinary use of diclofenac in India in 2006. A few thousand of this species, possibly up to the low tens of thousands, remained in India in 2015. The population of Indian Vulture continued to decline, though probably at a much slower rate than in the 1990s. This remains the most numerous of the three species in India with about 12,000 individuals in 2015 and a confidence interval ranging from a few thousands to a few tens of thousands. The trend in the rarest species, Slender-billed Vulture, which probably numbers not much more than 1,000 individuals in India, cannot be determined reliably.