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Planet Ark World Environment News First Captive-Bred Asian Vulture Chicks Die

Date: 23-Feb-07
Country: INDIA

The Oriental white-backed vulture chicks had been warmly greeted when they hatched in January at a breeding centre in Pinjore in the north Indian state of Haryana.

Both chicks died later in January, Vibhu Prakash, the principal scientist of the Bombay Natural History Society's vulture breeding programme, told Reuters on Thursday.

Prakash blamed the parents.

"They were first-time parents and they just didn't know what to do with their chicks," he said.

"That happens very often even in the wild."

The society is trying to save South Asia's Oriental white-backed, long-billed and slender-billed vultures from extinction.

The population of these birds has dropped by more than 97 percent in the last 15 years, according to Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Scientists say the decline is largely due to farmers dosing their cattle with the anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac, poisoning the birds one step up the food chain.

Prakash said the society was taking the bad news in its stride.

"This is just a part of what happens in nature" he said. "We were not expecting breeding to happen so soon anyway."

He said dozens of vultures at the centre would reach parenting age in the next two or three years, when breeding would begin in earnest.

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Reuters
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