Chat Archives
Chat on "Why are vultures important for Swachh Bharat?" dated May 17, 2015
  • Susan Sharma: Today's chat is on "Why are vultures important for Swachh Bharat?"
  • Susan Sharma: The moderator is Pradeep Sharma
  • Pradeep Sharma: Hello, Sorry for little delay
  • Susan Sharma: Hi Pradeep
  • Pradeep Sharma: Hello Susan Madam
  • Susan Sharma: Can you just introduce yourself before we start?
  • Pradeep Sharma: Well, I am a veterinarian, presently working with government of Rajasthan.
  • Susan Sharma: Hi Susht, Neelkandan
  • Pradeep Sharma: I have worked on ecology, microbilogy and few conservation aspects of vulures
  • Pradeep Sharma: *microbiology
  • Sushant Gupta: Hello Susan
  • Sushant Gupta: Hello Pradeep
  • Pradeep Sharma: The concept of cleanliness, is not all about, visual appearences but the wholisitic and conducive environment, in which infective diseases and incidences can be minimized
  • Pradeep Sharma: Hi Sushant
  • Pradeep Sharma: and Nirmal
  • Nirmal Neelakandan: Hello everyone
  • Pradeep Sharma: And the ecological agents, which have been able to and doing the job, in an economical and sustainable manner, are needed to bre prioritize
  • Sushant Gupta: Pradeep, as I understand from my biology and environment lessons - every living being has a role to play in the eco-system. But why specifically vultures are important for cleanliness? Could you elaborate?
  • Pradeep Sharma: Vultures are important in a sense that they do the environmental cleaning in an extremely environmental friendly, and even beneficial way!
  • Pradeep Sharma: Vultures are the only obligate scavenger species on this planet, that means the species is evolved over billion years of evolutionary period for a specific and expert way
  • Pradeep Sharma: Vultures digestive systems is evolved in a way that they can withstand a load of microbial pathogens and environmental toxins
  • Pradeep Sharma: which no other species is able to! The general term of scavengers may involved dogs, kites, few other birds and even egyptian vultures, but technically only Gyps vultures are ecologically desinged to carry the work of a scavenger exclusively
  • Sushant Gupta: That is interesting.
  • Pradeep Sharma: Because dogs, kites, and even egyptian vultures are omnivorous but not the Gyps vultures (including long-billed, white-rumped, slender-billed)
  • Susan Sharma: Do the Gyps vultures hunt and kill too?
  • Pradeep Sharma: In simpler terms, let me elaborate, if a dead carcass of a cow is lying down the road from Delhi to Agra, then, dogs and kites can do chew a bit but would not be able to do a wholesome cleaning in context of carcass disposal
  • Pradeep Sharma: No Gyps vultures, in most of the cases, can not hund and kill
  • Pradeep Sharma: But it does not mean that they won't gorge on a terminally ill animal, which is not able to defend itself....
  • Pradeep Sharma: *hund= hunt
  • Pradeep Sharma: as soon as they get a passive opportunity to feed on flesh, they would do that without a disjunction of living or dead..
  • Pradeep Sharma: @Sushant: Have I been able to address your question? Or let me know if I can add few more inputs
  • Sushant Gupta: Yes, indeed you have addressed my question.
  • Pradeep Sharma: Thank you
  • Sushant Gupta: Can you further illustrate on the level of impact that they can create?
  • Pradeep Sharma: The whole concept of cleanliness is dependent on level of hygiene, or in simple terms, to minimize incidences of infectious diseases..
  • Sushant Gupta: I ask this question because the Government is spending crores of Rupees in swacch bharat mission which, as I understand, has more to do with waste created by humans
  • Pradeep Sharma: If you consider waste of biological origin, in general, it could be chemically simplified and recycled into environmentally sustaibable and even benefical simple substances
  • Sushant Gupta: As I understand, garbage coming out of homes typically consists of organic waste entangled with lot of inorganic waste. Considering such a situation, how much impact can the vultures create?
  • Pradeep Sharma: *chemically=biologically (by bacteria and other micro-organisms)
  • Pradeep Sharma: Vultures can not address the problems created with waste of non-biological origin and non-living entities..
  • Pradeep Sharma: but on a larger landscape, you may need to think about the scenaro of rural landscape of India
  • Pradeep Sharma: your milk may be coming from a dairy in Haryana, or your chicken from some farm in Ajmer in Rajasthan
  • Pradeep Sharma: India has one of the largest population of livestocl
  • Pradeep Sharma: livestock
  • Pradeep Sharma: in the world...
  • Pradeep Sharma: efficient and economical disposal is fundamental key of a sustainable environment, in which we can access disease free livestock products
  • Pradeep Sharma: why I am stressing the need of the vultures that may be someday you may have glistening streets like stockholm in Delhi or Mumbai but unless and untill you involved the rural lanscape of India for the purpose, the objective of Swachh Bharat could not be met
  • Sushant Gupta: I understand. So vultures have more role to play in the ecology where the substances from industrial waste have not encroached much.
  • Sushant Gupta: Is that the right conclusion?
  • Pradeep Sharma: For inorganic waste, we mat have to shift focus on our policy and consumption practice including disposal policies for such things
  • Pradeep Sharma: Yes, vultures won't with stand chemical toxicant Sushant
  • Pradeep Sharma: *mat =may
  • Sushant Gupta: Alright I got that.
  • Pradeep Sharma: Thank you!
  • Pradeep Sharma: There are certain things that as an individual we can contribute, like saying to plastics, minimizing the products that may harm the environment (rodenticide, insecticides etc)
  • Pradeep Sharma: saying **no
  • Sushant Gupta: One last question from my side: Can vultures help in curbing diseases as ebola/Bird flu by feeding on the carcass of the infected animal?
  • Pradeep Sharma: A rodenticide, speciallly, can kill kites, raptors, birds and may be pet dogs
  • Pradeep Sharma: because a dead rat on a street or a field is a food for number of species
  • Pradeep Sharma: ebola and flu are diseases of viral origin
  • Pradeep Sharma: Generally viruses are little hardy in withstanding environnmental or biologicla adversaries..
  • Pradeep Sharma: for example anthrax bacteria can forms spores that can persist for decades in soil
  • Pradeep Sharma: but not the case with viruses
  • Pradeep Sharma: so citing the digestive profile of vultures, it is highly unlikely that viruses can survive a pass through the vultures gut system
  • Pradeep Sharma: but again few viruses can spread through even the air and technically speaking, we do not have a robust information if vultures can address the situation of a viral outbreak
  • Sushant Gupta: Oh I understand.
  • Pradeep Sharma: It is all abut ecological complexities
  • Pradeep Sharma: A cormorant could be eaten by a Marsh harrier before it is taken by a vulture....
  • Pradeep Sharma: The harrier could become infected or pass on the virus to some other bird...who knows...
  • Sushant Gupta: ok...
  • Pradeep Sharma: but in a theritical manner, a vultures faecal matter is highly unlikely to have a viable virus able to infect
  • Pradeep Sharma: * theoretical
  • Sushant Gupta: That is interesting
  • Pradeep Sharma: I hope I have been able to address the q's so far..
  • Susan Sharma: Nirmal, any questions from you?
  • Sushant Gupta: Yes Pradeep you did.
  • Pradeep Sharma: Thanks Sushant
  • Susan Sharma: Pradeep where are we, as far as vulture populations are concerned now?
  • Pradeep Sharma: Well, this is a little drifted one
  • Pradeep Sharma: Honestly we don't know!
  • Pradeep Sharma: Becaue no population estimates have been taken up ever so far to produce critical information about the status of the vultures
  • Pradeep Sharma: Vultures are the species, which used to thrive right on to the next peeple tree or banyan tree in outskirt of your parental village
  • Susan Sharma: But surely, all the effort put in by Birdlife and others would have made a difference?
  • Pradeep Sharma: So the whole rural landscape of India (except extreme south) has been a traditional habitat of the vultures and unless and until we have information covering this vast geographical spread and ecologicla niches of the long billed and white-rumped, it is hard to project the scenario in more or less absolute manner
  • Pradeep Sharma: Yes efforts are always a welcome change, and they do contribute
  • Pradeep Sharma: But to conlude is a herculean task if you are dealing with a species like vultures
  • Pradeep Sharma: But yes, whatever the case may be but the vulture conservation needs to be prioritize
  • Pradeep Sharma: *conlude=conclude
  • Susan Sharma: You have been doing a lot of work to dissuade cattle owners fro using Diclofenac
  • Pradeep Sharma: In my capacity
  • Susan Sharma: Is there any agency in India or abroad who is documenting and following up the work being done in India?
  • Pradeep Sharma: But foraging range of vultures is vast
  • Pradeep Sharma: unless we do at a macro level, it is hard to achieve
  • Susan Sharma: So true
  • Pradeep Sharma: even some research paper admit that the carcasses are still having traces of diclofenac in India post-ban!
  • Pradeep Sharma: And still I am on to research on to few other potential threat to the vultures, which would be pointed out in due course and due manner!
  • Susan Sharma: Thank you for a very frank and illuminating chat. Thank you Sushant and other participants.
  • Pradeep Sharma: But awareness is required, we need more to join, support and contribute
  • Pradeep Sharma: Thank you Susan madam!
  • Pradeep Sharma: Sorry for not being able to register one of the question
  • Susan Sharma: As i close the chat room the transcript will be uploaded automatically. Please share the link with as many people as you can.
  • Pradeep Sharma: All right
  • Susan Sharma: Good night, Pradeep1
  • Pradeep Sharma: thank you very much Sushant, Nirmal and Susam mad
  • Pradeep Sharma: mam
  • Pradeep Sharma: sorry
  • Pradeep Sharma: Good night everyone!
  • Pradeep Sharma: Susan Mam, I meant , apologies for the typo
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