Nepal sets up “restaurants” for endangered vultures
Vultures are seen by a lot of people as ugly and disgusting creatures, but in reality these birds have been an important part of our ecosystem by keeping the environment clean and preventing the spread of dangerous diseases.
Here’s the sad part: approximately 40 million vultures have been lost in the last 15 years. Their rapid decline is blamed on the widespread use of diclofenac, a non-steroidal drug used for treating inflammation in livestock such as cows. When these scavengers feed on the carcass of those cattle, they die of liver and kidney failure.
In a move to revive the dwindling population of vultures, “restaurants” have been established in Nepal which provide nourishment for the endangered birds. These feeding stations get their meat from old ox and cows, and the serving of healthy food has helped increase the number of vultures in that region.
Pithauli, some 100 km (60 miles) southwest of the Nepali capital of Kathmandu, was the site of the first such feeding station, which now number six around the country.
The number of nesting pairs there has grown to 46 compared with just 17 before the feeding site was opened five years ago, said Dhan Bahadur Chaudhary, who coordinates the project.
The vulture restaurant has become a tourist attraction in the poverty-stricken village, and admission fees from visitors — who last year numbered some 2,000 — help support it.
Despite the positive results, though, some locals remain skeptical.
“Why save a bird that feeds on dead animals?” said 34-year-old Chet Nath Gandell, noting that the scavengers sometimes leave parts of the carcasses unfinished. “Stinking carrion pollutes the air and we are forced to breathe in a slow poison.”
Check out this amazing footage of vultures feeding from a cow carcass in Nepal.