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On International Vulture Awareness Day, Tamil Nadu NGO spreads awareness among students, pharmacists and vets

Arulagam, a not-for-profit organisation in Tamil Nadu held several programmes for spreading awareness about vultures among children and students

Coimbatore-based not-for-profit organisation Arulagam organised a series of events to celebrate the International Vulture Awareness Day recently. All the programmes were observed at Mudumalai and Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserves in Tamil Nadu, where vultures have been sighted, and were conducted in collaboration with the Tamil Nadu Forest Department and WWF India.

Talking about these events to India Narrative, S. Bharathidasan, Secretary and Co-founder of Arulagam said: “The aim was to make people, especially children and youth, aware of the importance of vultures in our ecosystem. These birds, who are extremely useful to humankind as they scavenge dead bodies and keep the environment clean, have not been in the spotlight despite the fact that they are disappearing at a fast rate.”

To sensitise the public a rally was organised in Masinagudi, a village in Nilgiris district which saw participation by a large number of people including veterinary doctors, students and drug store owners. Marching through the village, they raised slogans like “Protect the Vultures”, “Avoid banned drugs” and “If the vulture prospers, the jungle will prosper”.

“To drive home the point, there was a performance – song and dance drama — by the members of Arulagam. This was not only enjoyed by everyone but also proved effective to convey the theme of vulture conservation,” Bharathidasan told India Narrative.

Arulagam Vulture Awareness Day1
The events organised to spread awareness about vulture conservation saw enthusiastic participation of children, vets and chemists

The vets and pharmacists were also taken to the vulture habitat as part of the programme where they caught sight of a vulture. The vets and students also played a game which was similar to the snake and ladder to make the players understand in a simple way why the vultures are dying and what can be done to improve them.  The winners were also given an award by Siva Pharmacy in Gudalur.

Vets and pharmacists were also provided a gazette copy of the ban on aceclofenac and ketoprofen. They also took pledge that they will not use or prescribe drugs such as diclofenac, ketoprofen, aceclofenac, nimesulide and flunixin, which are harmful to vultures.

Speaking about the efforts made by authorities, Bharathidasan said: “We hope that with the joint efforts, the vulture population will recover. We also welcomed the recent ban of drugs by the Union Government and the Tamil Nadu Government.”

An audio message in 9 languages with the title “I am the vulture speaking” was released by Vidya, Deputy Director, MTR for wider dissemination of the message.

Carrying forward the celebrations, a cricket match was held in Moyar village which saw 8 teams participating. Representing different villages, each team had an animal name. A street theatre event was conducted at Bokkapuram, Thenadu Kambai and Ebbanadu villages.

Arulagam also organised a vulture awareness day programme at Government Middle School, in Sujil Kuttai Village, at STR. The function was presided over by Sivakumar, Forest Range Officer, Bhavanisagar in K. Devika, headmistress of school. The students were explained the importance of vultures and their contribution to ecology and human beings.

Several forest officials from MTR and STR participated in these events.

Also read: Tamil Nadu’s conservationists bat for vultures using art and painting