Birds Nepal & Women for Conservation Celebrate International Vulture Awareness Day
The first Saturday in September each year is International Vulture Awareness Day (IVAD). Of nine species of Vultures found in Nepal, eight of these are globally Threatened and three species are categorized as Critically Endangered in IUCN Red list. IVAD originated from Vulture Awareness Days run by the Birds of Prey Programme of the Endangered Wildlife Trust in South Africa and the Hawk Conservancy Trust in England, who decided to work together and expand the initiative into an international event.
Women for Conservation partner, Birds Nepal, is a non-profit organization run by a small group of ornithologists, biologists, and conservationists in the Nawalpur District of Nepal. Together, our main objectives involve the research and monitoring of birds and their habitat, assisting marginalized women in attaining sustainable lifestyles (for example, sewing classes), promoting environmental awareness among youth, and encouraging students to pursue conservation work. Together, Birds Nepal and W4C conduct student birding classes, monthly wildlife jeep safaris in Chitwan National Park, and visits to a vulture “restaurant”. This reserve is a safe zone that ensures vultures can eat chemical-free cattle carcasses.
In order to celebrate IVAD 2022 and to educate students about vultures, our organizations organized an art drawing competition in four schools in the Madhyabindu Municipality. The schools were Shree Kumarwarti Higher Secondary School, Navajyoti Basic School, Pancha Pandav Basic School, and Janata Higher Secondary School. A total of 120 students participated, and the 60 students who had the better drawings visited the vulture restaurant. Two buses transported the students along with school staff and Birds Nepal team members a distance of 17 km.
Upon reaching the vulture restaurant, the students watched a PowerPoint presentation about vulture behavior. The top six students, who had excellent drawings, were chosen by the vulture management team and Birds Nepal to receive individual awards. The awards included back packs and drawing equipment and supplies. Then we all walked to a large bird blind that allows excellent viewing of the swarm of vultures as they feed on a cattle carcass. Within five minutes, more than 200 vultures landed at the carcass! The students were very excited to see this intense feeding activity, using binoculars if they choose. After an hour of observation, we left the blind. An elegant poster showing all vulture species in Nepal was given to each student. We had lunch at a nearby restaurant before the students returned home.