BHOPAL: This village in Raisen district gained its name, Geedgarh, as vultures were found here in abundance. Even a decade ago, vultures inhabited this village and its surroundings in large numbers. But, in the latest census, only about a dozen or so were registered. Geedgarh village, with a population of about 900, falls in Raisen district and is about 35 kilometres from the state capital.
“I’m witness to the presence of hundreds of vultures in this village. They inhabited the trees and the creeks in the mountains of this village. At present there are no vultures in the village here. Only some can still be seen in the mountain creeks,” said Bala Prasad, 80, a resident of the village. Prasad said that the number of vultures had reduced drastically after the railway tracks were laid. “About four years ago, a tree that was house to several vulture families was burnt. Another tree fell later and, since then, they have either shifted to the nearby mountains or abandoned the area completely,” he added.
“There were many vultures in and around this area. Not only has Gidhraaj left our village, but there are also no crows here. Cattle or animals that die in the village keep rotting, submerging the village in foul smell as these natural scavengers have abandoned our village,” said Parvati Bai, an old resident of the village.
Experts working in conservation of the ‘critically endangered species’ feel that the government could do more to protect the species from disappearing. “The government provides compensation to the villagers if endangered animals cause a loss to them. Similarly, people who own the trees where vultures make their nests should be given compensation. Then, they won’t burn down the trees, or force the birds to flee from those trees,” said Dilsher Khan, expert in vulture conservation.
“We’re taking adequate steps to save the habitats of vultures in this area,” said GD Warwade, forest officer of the Raisen range. He admitted, however, that the number of vultures had decreased in the area.