With a back drop of the magnificent Himalayas, a soaring vulture with a colossal wing span is a wondrous sight.
In Nepal they’ve taken the initiative in getting tourism to play an important part in saving the plight of the vulture. Yes…..Vulture Restaurants, fly in not drive in.
These amazing birds are in big trouble and it’s all our fault.
The cause of decline in the number of vultures 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.
OK, so some may well say that a vulture isn’t the prettiest of creatures. But, it’s beauty literally lies within.
They are the “cleaners” of the natural world. Not only do they play a vital role within the eco-system, the vulture is good for our health too.
The people of Nepal have given the birds a nickname….”kuchikar”, meaning a broom.
Studies have shown that the vultures stomach acid is 100 times stronger than a human beings and destroys harmful bacteria that would other wise enter the environment without harming the bird. Cholera and rabies in particular.
In fact medical evidence suggests that since the decline (by almost 99%) of vulture populations in India, the number of people dying from rabies has increased by 50,000!
Simply put, the vulture is our friend as well as natures too.
The two vulture restaurants in Nepal are believed to be the first community managed feeding stations and they are now open to visitors too. So, both vulture and the locals can benefit.
In the Hindu religion Jatayu is the vulture god, thus the feeding stations have been named Jatayu Restaurants.
One is located on the edge of the world famous Chitwan National Park, which is perhaps best known as being the home of the Bengal Tiger.
Now visitors to Chitwan can also enjoy the spectacle of soaring vultures gliding effortlessly on the thermals, circling in large numbers before coming in to land and to feed on the meal that has been put out for them.
It’s quite a sight as they all jockey for position, squabble and enjoy a good, if not frenzied feed, that is most importantly pesticide free.