A Nepalese conservation group has opened a healthy "restaurant" for vultures by serving 'drug free' carcasses to protect the rare species from extinction.
The number of vultures in South Asia has plunged drastically following a diet having dead cattle treated with the anti-inflammatory drug, diclofenac since the 1990s.
Researchers revealed that small doses of the drug, given to cattle to treat injury, caused kidney damage and death in vultures.
According to Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN), a group working for saving birds the drug is rapidly declining the white-rumped vulture and the slender-billed vulture from Nepal and the region.
In a bid to save the rapidly disappearing species, the group has opened a "restaurant" for the birds in the Nawalparasi district in southwest Nepal, where sick and old cattle not treated with diclofenac are available. After the cattle die, they are offered as "drug-free", safe food to the creatures.
"The 'restaurant' has definitely contributed to this increase," New Scientist quoted the group conservation officer Dev Ghimire, as saying.
The number of the nesting pairs of vultures in Nawalparasi has reached 32 in 2007 from just 17 in 2005.
"Nesting is declining in other areas where there are no such facilities. But here they are getting safe food which is why the numbers have gone up," he added.
Ghimire also admitted that they are planning to open more such feeding centres in three districts, further west from Nawalparasi, which also have populations of vultures.
The group has also launched a campaign for creating awareness among the villagers about the rapid extinction of the vultures.
It is estimated that the number of nesting pairs have dipped to only 500 nesting from about 50,000 in 1990.