SUBJECT :Birdwatchers call it a rare sighting 

Two Cinereous vultures (Aegypius monachus) seen in Hazaribagh. They draw their names from “monachus”, meaning hooded in Latin.

By: Shiv Sahay Singh

Kolkata, January 1, 2019: It is usually during the winter that a distinctly dark large bird – the Cinereous vulture, with a blacked-tipped pink beak – migrates from the mountainous regions of Europe and Asia to warmer places, including India.

While earlier records of this migratory bird have revealed that it comes to northern parts of India up to Rajasthan, bird watchers and researchers were baffled to find it in Hazaribagh in Jharkhand.

Shib Shankar Goswami, a bird enthusiast, spotted the vulture in Hazaribagh on December 30. “I was doing a nature walk with a group of bird enthusiasts, called Bird’s Buddy, when I spotted the vulture perched on a tree. Interestingly, the Cinereous vulture (classified as Near Threatened under the IUCN Red List) was found with three other endangered species of vultures,” Mr. Goswami said.

“Initially, I could not believe a sight where four rare vultures were seen in one frame, but the photographs taken at the spot revealed what can be a bird watcher’s delight,” he added. According to him, the three other vultures in the frame were the Himalyan Griffon, White-rumped vulture and the Long-billed vulture.

Smitha Pankaj, Divisional Forest Officer (Hazaribag East), confirmed the presence of the visitor from far off countries to Jharkhand. “We have spotted the Cinerous vulture for the first time in the region,” the DFO said, adding that five species of vultures, including the Himalayan Griffon, were spotted in Hazaribagh recently.

Underlining the concern over the decline in the population of vultures across the world, Sachin Ranade of Bombay Natural History Society welcomed the sighting.

“It is good that there is increased awareness among people about vultures and they are reporting their sightings. From the conservation point of view it is interesting that there is enough food available for vultures to thrive on their own in Hazaribagh,” Mr. Ranade, who also looks after a vulture conservation and breeding centre in Assam, said.

Experts said the Cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus) draws its name from “monachus”, which means hooded (like a monk) in Latin. India is home to nine species of vultures and with the population of these birds dwindling, the country has launched a species-recovery plan through conservation breeding centres in different parts of the country.