Welcome to Vulture restaurant
March 2008; Community in Pithauli, Nawalparasi is managing a unique endeavour of running the Vulture Restaurant to conserve critically endangered vultures.
The cause of decline of vulture is due to the veterinary drug diclofenac, which is widely used to treat livestock in Asia. Vultures are exposed to diclofenac by feeding on livestock carcasses, which contain residues of this drug. Even a small proportion (one in 130) of carcasses contaminated by diclofenac can be fatal to the vultures.
On the other hand, meloxicam, which is also as effective as diclofenac for the livestock is safe for vultures and other scavenging birds.
The community is managing cow ranches of around 300 in numbers. The community acquires these old cows free of cost or with minimum cost (In Nepal killing of
cow is prohibited) and treat the cow for 7 days with meloxicam to wash out any traces of diclofenac.
After seven days, if the cow dies, it is first skinned and the hide is sold to the hide collectors. The remaining meat is the feed for the vultures !
UNDP Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme has supported Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN), a National NGO, dedicated to conserving the birds in Nepal, for the management of community vulture restaurant.
The project has trained local community to manage cow ranch, vulture restaurant and proper record keeping.
The result is quite encouraging. The census this year shows that there are 32 breeding nests of vulture compared to last years' 17.
The Bird Conservation Nepal, with the support from local communities in Bardaghat is replicating vulture restaurant in other places also.