Lifescapes Gallery

19 / Oct / 2011
The Kabini Waste Disposal Corporation
Long-billed Vulture, Kabini Photograph: Sudhir Shivaram Story: Rajesh Ramaswamy

The Kabini Waste Disposal Corporation

In the grasslands of Kabini, which boast some of the world’s largest concentration of herbivores and their predators, the one constant of life…is death. Here, where the various roles in the food chain are played out unerringly on a daily basis, the consequence of such a well stocked larder is a large proportion of leftovers. With such a ready availability of fresh meat, predators don’t fuss themselves about picking their plates clean, and carcasses are mostly left half-eaten on their plates (they’ve obviously not had to deal with strict moms like the rest of us, and that bane of childhood called table manners). While leftover meat-on-the-hoof is a clear indication of the health of the population, it could also have an adverse effect. This is where the super efficient air-borne corps of the Waste Disposal Corporation comes into the picture. The Long-billed Vulture of Kabini is perhaps the least celebrated, yet most important member, of the food chain, for he is the one who disposes off the leftovers and ensures that disease and epidemics don’t spread from the rotting corpses. Feeding exclusively on carrion, mostly cattle remains, these ‘bald men’ of the forest are themselves endangered now. The principal reason for the alarming depredation of their number is, ironically, the very meat they consume. These vultures are vulnerable to the same drugs used to treat livestock, and often contract a fatal kidney disease after eating contaminated meat. This is a huge concern to the authorities as a dwindling vulture population could lead to debilitating epidemics sweeping across Kabini, as the carrion would rot and putrefy without their intervention. Captive breeding programmes, and ‘Vulture Restaurants’ have been set up in some places to provide uncontaminated carcasses, and hopefully these much maligned birds will thrive again and cleanse the ecosystem of all its detritus.

We at Orange County have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you one every fortnight, as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 19th, 2011 at 4:30 am and is filed under Birds, Kabini . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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User Comments
  1. Aswin Shah says:

    Excellent photo. Would love to see some videos as well. Consider including them.
    Enjoyed my recent visit to Orange County Kabini. Saw a leopard in boat safari. Great sight!!

  2. Kuncheria says:

    Nice pic and inspiring commentary !

  3. Vikram Nanjappa says:

    The Long Billed Vulture nests mainly on cliff ledges, rocky outcrops, and ruins (e.g., hill forts) and rarely in trees where cliffs are absent . They breed in colonies of up to 20 pairs .The nest is a loose platform made with sticks. Interior is lined with straw. There is a fun fact: usually, the nest is destroyed little by little by the chick. Sticks are pushed off the ledge! There had been a 97% decline in Long-billed Vultures between 1985 abd 1999. The Indian White-backed, Long-billed and Slender-billed Vultures (Gyps bengalensis, Gyps indicus and Gyps tenuirostris), were once regarded as the commonest raptor in India, but now they are listed as critically endangered by the BirdLife International U.K.

  4. jyoti aggarwal says:

    Nice one to reality

  5. Yazdi Patel says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed going through the description of the Long-billed Vulture, it was also sad to note that they are facing these calamities but also happy to note that you are trying to bring them back by feeding them with non- toxic food. Awaiting anxiously for further picture and descriptions. We are Mr. & Mrs. Y. B.Patel from Nasik. Thank you so much for the nice stay we had at Kabini and at Coorg. We miss the beautiful greenery all around.

  6. E.A.Elias says:

    I read every one of these Lifescapes and find them truly interesting and informative. They are excellently written, lively and enchanting. And the photographs are always top drawer too. Congratulations to the people who put it all together. Their passion and dedication to the cause of wildlife preservation shows clearly through their work. Elias

  7. Vinod Kumar VK says:

    What a Capture Sudhir Sir!! Fantastic…. No other shot can be this beautiful of this Bird..

  8. shy says:

    I am amazed at the pictures you guys take..really enjoy reading the information that comes with it. Keep up the good work.

  9. Anu Elisha says:

    Fantastic photograph, and as usual, great title. Just loved it 😉

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