Vulture deaths by electrocution are not controlled in Tanahun
At a time when government authorities and conservationists are concerned about vulture conservation in the country, vulture deaths caused by electrocution go unchecked at Shishuwa Bhateri in Byas-10 Municipality, Tanahun .
Three vultures were electrocuted while another was injured on Monday as they attempted to perch on a power pole of the Bhorletar-Damauli 33 KV transmission line of the Midim hydropower project.
“Two vultures lay dead under the transmission line while another was found hanging from the power pole. And the fourth was found injured. The transmission line as installed without studying its impact on durability , has become a death trap for the endangered vulture,” said Byas-10 resident Ram Prasad Sapkota.
Several species of vultures have been spotted in the area after the municipality of Byas set up a cow conservation centre, known locally as Gaushala, on the banks of the Madi River four years ago to manage the quadruped animals wanderers. Old and sick cows and other animals often die, and vultures visit the area to eat the carcasses.
According to Prajapati Sapkota, the chairman of the Gaushala, about 500 vultures of different species circle the area when two to three cows die in a single day. After eating the carcasses, the vultures usually look for high places to rest.
“In doing so, the vultures are electrocuted,” Prajapati said, saying about 100 vultures have died of electrocution in the area over the past two years.
“We were very happy as many vultures were spotted in the area after the Gaushala was established. But it is heartbreaking to see this area turning into a death trap for vultures. also at risk of transmission online,” he complains.
The municipality had set up the Cow Conservation Center because stray cattle caused road accidents and damaged crops. Currently, there are 102 cows, mostly old and sick, in the center. Along with managing stray animals, the Gaushala plays an important role in conserving the vulture population in the region.
However, stakeholders have expressed concern that the power line endangers the vulture population that flocked to the area after the establishment of the Gaushala.
“The Gaushala helps to manage stray cows and solve the problem of road accidents and crop damage. It also helps to conserve populations of vultures that feed on dead animals and clean the environment naturally”, said Man Bahadur Darai, another local resident. “But vultures are regularly dying of electrocution and the authorities seem indifferent to the issue.
On the other hand, Tulsiram Sapkota, the chairman of Byas-10 ward, says the local unit is also concerned about vulture conservation.
“We informed the Midim Hydropower Project and Tanahun Distribution Center of the Nepal Electricity Authority about the high number of vulture deaths caused by electrocution and asked them to address the issue. They said they would use high quality insulated wire on the power poles, but nothing has been done yet,” Sapkota said.
“The municipality plans to set up a protected area for vultures for their conservation. We have also written a letter to the Tanahun Division Forestry Office to prohibit the felling of Simal (kapok) trees in the area, as vultures need large trees to stay and nest,” he said.
According to ornithologists, nine species of vultures have been recorded in Nepal. The white-rumped vulture, slender-billed vulture, red-headed vulture, and Indian vulture are listed as critically endangered; the Egyptian vulture is listed as endangered while three other vulture species – the bearded vulture, the black vulture and the Himalayan griffon – are listed as near threatened.