Sunday, February 5, 2012

Red Headed Vulture killing Long Billed Vulture in Bandhavgarh National Park

I don't know why i did not put this important sighting on my blog that time. Some friends who work on vultures around the world were constantly asking for detail. I am putting those pictures here again for  a quick reference.
  Bandhavgarh National Park (23°30” to 23°46” N and 80° 11’ and 36” E) is situated in the Umaria District of Madhya Pradesh.  Four species of vultures are resident here. Long Billed Gyps Indicus, Red Headed Sarcogyps calvus, Egyptian Neophron percnopterus and White Rumped Gyps bengalensis vultures. Though all are in decline due to the uses of the drug Diclofenac that is still freely available in the area.
On 28th May 08 at 07-01 AM a Long Billed Vulture Gyps Indicus was spotted near a stream in Dadra meadow. It appeared sickly in a sitting posture with head bowed. Nearby a couple of Red Headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus was feeding on a carcass of what appeared to be another dead vulture. At 0705 AM while still watching the sickly bird walk further away a Red Headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus flew from a nearby tree and literally landed on the bird unaware. A second Red Headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus also appeared within seconds. By now the first was pecking at the Long Billed Gyps Indicus as it set on it back. Though the Long Billed Vulture Gyps Indicus tried to defend itself by counter attacking with its beak. It seemed unable to escape the grips of the heavier and healthier bird anchored on it back. It appeared that the second Red Headed Sarcogyps calvus seemed unwilling to join in the attack possibly due to hierarchy of the group and simply stood bye watching. After total ten minutes of suffering the Long Billed Vulture Gyps Indicus managed to escape and hop off to safety after the Red Headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus became distracted by more arrivals. There were no further attacks on the bird within the following fifteen minutes. At this point the observation was stopped.

The following afternoon there was a gathering of 8 to 9 Red Headed Vultures Sarcogyps calvus. They were feeding on a carcass of the recently dead Long Billed Vulture Gyps Indicus. One bird appeared dominant and as it fed while the others stood around watching. It is very probable that this was the carcass of the sickly Long Billed Vulture Gyps Indicus.
This is not the first time cannibalistic behavior amongst vultures has been observed in Bandhavgarh. However, it is the first time that of vultures appearing to attack sickly others for the purpose of generating food has been documented.
 Surely this does not mean that these vultures in Bandhavgarh are facing any kind of starvation. This could be a case of opportunistic behavior for getting the easy convenient food. 

1 comment:

@nal s€xer said...

Thats why these predatory vultures are called" king vultures". Mostly they r very timid but they can rob other birds of prey.