In the early 80’s India had 40 million Gyps vultures belonging to 3 resident species. Today just about nineteen thousand remain.
As per a survey released in 2017 there were about 6000 Whitebacked Vultures, 12000 Long-billed Vultures and 1000 Slender-billed Vultures. Between mid 90’s and 2007, India’s vulture population crashed 99% . The culprit being Diclofenac- a drug used widely in cattle to relieve fever and lameness.
Vultures were inadvertently poisoned as they fed on the carcasses of animals recently treated with the drug. Use of Diclofenac for cattle was effectively banned by 2008. But misuse of the human formulation of the drug in treating cattle was still poisoning vultures in 2015.
While population of other vulture species seems to have stabilised. Population of the Long-billed Vulture is still declining. To protect & conserve vultures, India has identified vulture safe zones that includes Pinjore in Haryana, Rajabhatkhawa in West Bengal, around Majuli Island in Assam, Bukswaha in Bundelkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Dudhwa National Park and Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh, Hazaribagh in Jharkhand, Central Gujarat and Saurashtra in Gujarat.
An area of 100 kms around the zones is made secure for vultures. In 2018 Indian govt released nearly 26 million rupees for vulture conservation