In the past 13 years, the number of vultures in Gujarat has fallen by 70 percent, 2018 census data revealed.
Since the first count of vultures in 2005, there has been a steady decline in the state's avian scavenger population. From 2016 to 2018, the numbers fell by 18 percent, Times of India reported.
The decrease was marked in most major districts of the state. Ahmedabad area recorded an 80 percent decrease in vulture population from 2005 with numbers falling from 254 to 50 in 2018. the white-rumped vulture count which stood at 254 is now five. IIM Ahmedabad, one of the biggest vulture colonies in the state, does not have a single vulture remaining, thanks to development work within the campus.
Surat also had over 300 vultures in 2005 but now the number stands at zero. A similar tragedy played out in other parts such as Kutch where vultures numbers have decreased by 800 since 2005.
The alarming numbers are indicative of the damage human activity causes wildlife in terms of shrinking their habitats through deforestation and construction. Since the 1970s, animal populations the world over have reduced by 60 percent, owing to mass razing of wild habitats to fulfill the housing and business needs the furiously growing population.
Meanwhile, an increase in vulture populations was also noted in eight out of the 33 districts surveyed. The number of vultures in Gir and Girnar wildlife sanctuaries in Junagadh, for instance, increased by 26.
The problem of declining vulture populations is not just a problem for Gujarat.
The vulture population in India has declined by a shocking 99.95 per cent since the 1980s, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar revealed in Parliament earlier in the year. In the 1980s, there were around 40 million vultures in India primarily belonging to three species - White-backed Vulture, Long-billed Vulture and Slender-billed Vulture. As of 2017, that number has dwindled to a paltry 19,000.
Southern Indian states where the vulture population is high have recently made efforts to check the number of vultures in the areas. In February this year, forest department officials and experts from three South Indian states came to gether for a vulture conservation program in Wayanad, Kerala, where they called for a national vulture conservation plan on the lines of the tiger conservation program and also proposed an official counting of vultures in the states.