[By Chris Bowden our International Species Recovery Officer & Vulture SAVE Programme Manager]
Another hectic trip within the region this time took me to participate at the National Vulture Action Plan meeting in Kathmandu. Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN – the BirdLife Partner), coordinated by Khadananda Paudel, who helped plan my visit. A rather different way to spend a Sunday morning! (Government offices are open Sunday to Friday in Nepal) and the attendance was very encouraging including the DG Wildlife – then followed by meeting various vulture partners with BCN the following day, including IUCN Nepal and National Trust for Nature Conservation. This gave me a chance to get to know and brief BCN’s new CEO, Narendra Pradhan who has just taken the helm, coming with great credentials from WWF Nepal and before that Nepal’s Government Wildlife Department.
Vulture Action Plan Meeting, Nepal
A further snippet from the Bangladesh visit the week before was the broadcasting of the national channel’s (Channel i) 25 minute program about the vulture issue Do watch on this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQNNxgNSarQ&list=UUGEDq-IbxVFg01BspUOUa4w and please pass on particularly to any Bangladesh contacts... Our thanks to Prokriti O Jibon Foundation for permission to post this link, and in particular to TV host Muqeed Majumdar Babu who is actively taking up the vulture cause in Bangladesh.
And Bird Conservation Nepal www.birdlifenepal.org for more on the workshops and vulture news from Nepal
After four high level meetings in Dhaka with senior Forest Department officials last week, and listening to what the Chief Conservator of Forests, and the Additional Secretary both had to say – I’m left feeling very upbeat on the prospects not only of making the diclofenac ban more effective in Bangladesh, but also for going the extra step to ban ketoprofen, (which although we know it’s also toxic to the vultures, has yet to be banned in any of the vulture range states)... could this be the lead we need to get it banned across South Asia??
My colleague, Ananya Mukherjee and I were made extremely welcome by our IUCN Bangladesh hosts and indeed many more, including even the high level Forest department officials. Dipu of IUCN had carefully planned almost every minute of our time, and made the most of it to raise the profile of vultures. As well as appearing on the national TV news channels, we even did an environmental (Channel i) chat show with the famous Muqeed Majumdar Babu, and were able to reinforce those SAVE priority messages on air! In the end I could also visit the field and saw one wild Oriental white-backed vulture as well as meeting all the newly formed local Vulture Community Team at their inaugural meeting! Ananya shared experiences from India and Nepal and we came away thinking that with the level of Forest Department support shown so far, this work could end up setting the standards for others to follow.
Thanks again to Dipu, Rasel and Khadja – the new IUCN-based vulture team for making it such a positive and welcoming week! I’m looking forward to the next visit in November with all SAVE Partners.
Photo caption: Dipu of IUCN Bangladesh speaking at the Vulture Safe Zone meeting in Silyet. (Khadja is in orange) (photo: Chris Bowden)
We got some excellent national press coverage links of meetings we attended:
Our SAVE Vulture Programme site is http://www.save-vultures.org/
Chris Bowden our International Species Recovery Officer & Vulture SAVE Programme Manager is out in the field.
My vulture work is now taking me from Bangalore to Dhaka in Bangladesh. I'm going to meet all the key folk who have been working hard on vulture conservation - such as Dr Monirul Khan and Enam Ul Haque, the Forest Department and the IUCN team.
It's going to be a busy and exciting week as Dipu who co-ordinates the new project from IUCN plus a few others have organized some Government and funder meetings (including UNDP).
I'm currently nervously waiting for my colleague Annanya Mukherjee, who does vulture work in North India, to join me. Together we are meant to be running two Forest Department training sessions about the setting up of Vulture Safe Zones. And visits are planned to a vulture safe area and meet up with some officials in the Rema Tea Estate and Wildlife Sanctuary. However, it's monsoon flooding time and I just saw the weather forecast and it doesn't look good!!! Good luck Annanya!
Although I may not leave Dhaka myself, this (my second) visit has been very warmly encouraged by those working there, and coincides with the great news that both Forest Department and the Bangladesh National Vulture Recovery Committee have formally agreed to become full Partners of SAVE, and we’re even planning to hold our SAVE meeting there this November. This now brings the number of SAVE Partners to thirteen!
Monirul Khan addressing an enthusiastic gathering of Bangladesh Bird Club during my first visit in 2012 (photo: Chris Bowden)
To keep up-to-date with our work saving vultures click here www.save-vultures.org