Conservationist H Byju writes why vultures are indispensable to bio-diversity in his book

“Picture this,” he says. “Layers and layers of misty hills, dense with greenery, …and a river.” Photographer H Byju is describing the dramatic Moyar Gorge, one of many oldest gorges in Peninsular India, carved out of the Moyar River in the Nilgiris Biosphere of the Western Ghats. “It is here I saw the vultures for the first time,” he recollects. His new book, Valley of Hope—Moyar and Vultures, revealed by Don Books, Kottayam in Kerala, captures his expeditions in the Moyar Valley as he tracked nesting vultures for over two years. Byju is part of the Vulture Conservation Working Group – South India. He is a core member of vulture research in Mudumalai and Satyamangalam Tiger Reserves that fall beneath the Nilgiris Biosphere. “The Moyar Gorge dates back to 2.5 billion years and maximum depth is 260 metres. Did you know that the Moyar Valley is the only place South of Vindhyas where a viable reproductive population of vultures are breeding naturally and thereby protected from going extinct?” he asks.

Rendezvous in the wild

  • The book recreates his particular moments in the wild. Once, he witnessed reside, a pack of untamed canines, about 30 of them, attacking a noticed deer. And, he additionally noticed a tiger for the primary time in his 20 years of trekking the place he has been to over 90 wildlife reserves throughout India. “ I saw a tiger in the wild. Four of them,” he says with out hiding his pleasure. “We were in one of the core areas of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. The air was nippy. As I sipped my black coffee taking in the breathtaking view of the morning landscape, a majestic tiger with three of her cubs walked into the frame. It was an unforgettable moment.”
  • Byju participates in forest surveys in Kerala and Tamil Nadu often. One of his main tasks was an all India marketing campaign on street kills, named PATH ( Provide Animals secure Transit on Highways) because the co-ordinator. He and his staff lined 23000 kms in 43 days by street creating consciousness alongside the way in which at faculties, faculties, forest reserves and sanctuaries.
  • The book is out there at book shops in Kerala and can quickly be obtainable on-line. You can purchase a duplicate at or e-mail: [email protected]

In his book, Byju narrates how only a few a long time in the past, 1000’s of vultures circled the sky over these forest ranges. “Now, the numbers have dwindled to just 200 or 300. Of this. Ninety per cent of the population is that of the White-rumped vultures and the remaining is the Red-headed vulture and the Long-billed or the Indian vulture. We traced the history of the Moyar Valley landscape and rebuilt it by understanding traditional wisdom and knowledge from tribals who lived there. This, in an effort to protect the existing population and arrest further decline.” The Valley additionally attracted vagrant species like Cinereous vulture, the Egyptian vulture and the Himalayan griffon that got here all the way in which from The Himalayas and North of India.

White-rumped vulture

White-rumped vulture  
| Photo Credit:
H Byju

Byju heard tales of the vultures and what they meant to the indigenous folks.Some imagine that the Egyptian Vulture ( that resembles a typical crow) because the moodadiyar (their ancestors) who come down to bless them. The Todas name the Red-head vulture or the King vulture poosari kazhugu that breaks open the carcass with its robust beaks for the opposite vultures to feast on.

“Maari, a 60-year-old tribal from Bhoothanatham Village reminisces about the 100s of vultures that he saw in his boyhood coming to feed on dead cattle that villagers left in the open. There were rows of cattle pens in Mudumalai and Satyamangalam forests remembers Nanjan from Moyar. Things changed, learnt Byju, when cattle was banned from the forests in the 1970s. Krishnan from Theppakad hamlet in Mudumalai reconstructed how the landscape, the grassland that was once open with only intermittent trees was now overgrown with weeds and tigers, leopards and dholes hid their kill in the bush. The carcass was no longer visible to the vultures and the lack of food drove them away. “ I wanted to document all these fascinating stories and that led me to write the book.”

Moyar Valley

Moyar Valley  
| Photo Credit:
H Byju

There are scientific research on how a veterinary non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug known as diclofenac, administered to cattle, proved to be catastrophic to the vulture inhabitants in the South Asian area. Diclofenac in the carcasses had been poison for the vultures once they consumed them. Though diclofenac is banned now, there are different equally dangerous medicine nonetheless in use. “Vultures are often reviled. But it is these scavengers who clean up after death, and keep the ecosystems healthy and free from zoonotic diseases like human anthrax,” he says.

Byju is completely satisfied that they discovered over 30 reside nests which signifies the potential for so many juveniles. While he admits that restoring the inhabitants to its former glory is an uphill process, he nonetheless has hope. “And, the core forests are still intact which is a good sign.”

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