One fine winter afternoon in 2014, our Co-founder Khima Nand was in outskirts of Dehradun. He was on a phone call when he observed a Himalayan Griffon Vulture collided with the high-tension power line and fell down and before he could hung up the phone call, another vulture collided with the power line and dropped dead. He thought it is quite unusual and ran towards the power line to investigate. He found out that, carcasses of dead animals were being dumped near the power line and when vultures came to feed on them, they were getting electrocuted due to collision.
With the help of researchers from Doon University and funding support from Oriental Bird Club in 2016, he started a state-wide study on the population status and threats faced by the vultures. That study revealed a grim situation for already Endangered (EN) species of vultures as they faced extreme threat from habitat loss and carcass dumping near power lines. This study was further supported by Conservation Leadership Programme in 2016. And we found out that, the threat of NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drug) Diclofenac was still prevalent in the state. But, electrocution was probably killing more vultures.
In 2018, our work was supported by The Rufford Foundation and The MBZ Species Conservation Fund. During which we identified many such carcass dumping sites where vultures would feed and roost. We also facilitated in shifting of some unsafe carcass dumping sites to safer location, which resulted in 100% decline in vulture mortality in those sites. Education and Outreach is a big part of our research and conservation work, therefore we have organized more than 90 awareness programs, 13 training programs, 8 regional workshops and 1 International workshop for conservation of vultures from 2014-2020.
During our surveys, we found out that Steppe Eagles (Aquila nipalensis) while wintering in our study site, also faced the same threat of electrocution as vultures. So, we started an extensive study to assess the severity of these threats to other species too and started programs to incorporate different stakeholders in the conservation efforts.
This year, we have received funds from The Explorers Club for the conservation of Steppe Eagles and from The MBZ Species Conservation Fund and HawkWatch International for the conservation of Vultures.