November 21, 2005

Wanted: Dead Animals to Save Threatened Vultures

NEW DELHI -- The forestry department in the remote eastern Indian state of Assam is appealing for dead animals -- to feed vultures threatened with extinction, a newspaper reported on Saturday.

India has lost more than 95 percent of its vulture population in the last decade to mystery viruses, avian flu and carcasses sprinkled with pesticide. The Hindustan Times newspaper said more than 500 vultures had died in Assam since 2001.

It reported the forestry department wanted carcasses from towns and villages in Assam to be brought to two specially demarcated areas known for their vulture population.

The birds are considered sacred by some communities in India and play an important role in Hindu mythology for trying to save the wife of God-king Ram.