Tinsukia: In a moving incident, hundreds of villagers gathered on Sunday to perform last rites for the scores of vultures that died due to poisoning at a remote village in Assam’s Tinsukia district last month.
What came from Dhulijan village were images of grief and sorrow that underline the coexistence and bonding between humans and wildlife.
On Monday, Vivek Menon of Wildlife Trust of India tweeted: Happy to release 6 Slender billed and 2 White rumped #Vultures in Assam after treatment for unintentional #poisoning. Paid homage to the 36 that died with villagers who had kept a wake (Shraddh) for vultures. Indian values and challenges in nutshell #conservation”
Reports of deaths of the vultures started coming from the village on January 18, and within a week, at least 36 vulture carcasses were found in and around the village, allegedly after consuming flesh of seven cows, which allegedly died due to “poisoning” after drinking from a nearby waterbody.
Forestor Krishna Kanta Gogoi told EastMojo that hundreds of villagers from Dhulijan, Betoni, Borgora and Tamuli villages under the Doomdooma forest division, along with several NGO’s, gathered to pay homage to the dead vultures on Sunday.
“The last rites were performed in a similar manner like we do for humans. Prayers were performed at the same place where they were found dead.”
The villagers, along with WTI officials Vivek Menon, Rathin Barman, and assistant conservator of forest Uttam Basumatry also offered prayers for the well being of the eight sick vultures, who were released on Monday after treatment, Gogoi said.
In the coming days, the villagers have decided plant trees and preserve tall trees, as are preferred by vultures to build nests on, Gogoi said.
Gogoi said that the villagers have also decided that in the event of unnatural death of any animal, the owner will bury him to avoid similar incidents.
Vultures, being nature’s most efficient scavengers, have always played an important role in the disposal of animal carcasses. The population of the slender-billed vultures, however, has come down by 99 percent, raising alarm with conservationists the world over.
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