What are the features of the Indian vulture?

          The Indian vulture is also called the long-billed vulture. They are medium-sized and bulky, with very broad wings.  Their main feathers are very dark, while the inner covert feathers are pale. If you see them from below when they are flying, the forewings will appear light brown. They have a small head and long neck.

          They are found as colonies, on cliff edges and buildings. Earlier, these birds were very common in peninsular India except the extreme south. But their population is decreasing severely and the IUCN has included them in the list of Critically Endangered species since 2002.

           A major reason for the deaths of Indian vultures is the poisoning caused by a veterinary drug called diclofenac. If they eat the remains of dead animals treated by diclofenac, the vultures face kidney complaints which eventually lead to their death.

          There are attempts to save them by breeding them artificially in captivity. But there is a limitation here – these birds have a long life span and are slow to reproduce. Therefore, the captive-breeding programme may take decades to make a significant difference.