Long-billed vulture chick. First ever successful captive breeding of Gyps indicus, using artificial incubators.

Conservation breeding

We are creating diclofenac-free Save Havens for vultures, but this takes time, and with vultures declining so rapidly, it may not be enough.

About the breeding project

It is essential that we establish a conservation breeding programme before it is too late.

We have taken healthy birds from the wild to build a viable population, and will release them and their young, when diclofenac is no longer a threat.

Vulture re-introductions have been carried out very successfully in France with closely related Eurasian griffon vultures, and we draw on experience of the California condor programme, and of expert Jemima Parry-Jones, so we are confident it can work.

Several hundred birds of each species must be kept in a number of well separated centres to make this work.

So far, four conservation breeding centres have been built in India:

  • Haryana, northern India - 145 vultures are housed here
  • West Bengal - 83 are held here
  • Assam - holding 42 vultures
  • Madhya Pradesh - this is the newest breeding centre.

There are two additional centres - one in Nepal, at Chitwan and one run by WWF in Pakistan.

The vulture centre in Haryana was developed with support from the Darwin Initiative, with considerable local support from the State Government of Haryana.

Vulture chicks

It's working

We are now producing more than 60 vulture fledglings each year! In spring 2008 we celebrated the fantastic news that the first two pairs of Oriental white-backed vulture had bred successfully at the Haryana centre.

In 2010, we had further cause for excitement - and hope. For the first time ever, all three of the Critically Endangered Gyps vultures successfully bred and fledged young at the breeding centres in India.

This event was a world first for the long-billed vulture, which had never bred in captivity before. Drawing on the expertise of SAVE and its supporters, new artificial incubation techniques were developed which have increased productivity. We are also increasing productivity further by getting some pairs to ‘double clutch’, meaning they produced a second egg and chick, as the first was removed, hatched in incubators and reared by highly trained Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) staff.

Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps bengalensis in flight.Pinjore, Haryana

How you can help

Please donate today, and help us continue this vital work. With your help, we should have plenty more to celebrate in the future.

To find out more, please contact Chris Bowden, SAVE Programme Manager, at chris.bowden@rspb.org.uk.

If you would like to discuss sponsoring a Safe Haven (with a gift of £1,000 or more), please contact Conor Jameson at conor.jameson@rspb.org.uk.

If you would like to discuss bespoke opportunities for your business to help SAVE, please contact Alex Hipkiss at alex.hipkiss@rspb.org.uk.

Help save Asia's vultures from extinction

White-rumped vulture
Help save Asia's vultures from extinction

Please give £4 a month to help fund the successful long-term captive breeding programme.