KATHMANDU, Nepal–When a century old silk cotton tree standing at Madanpokhara village in Palpa district, some 300 kilometer south of the Capital Kathmandu started gathering a flock of vultures, the villagers initially decided to cut the tree itself thinking that vultures may indicate bad omen.
As they were planning to get rid of the predators, ´Radio Madanpokhara´ a local radio station happened to heed the plight of the locals. In fact the FM radio was for preserving the ´nature´s cleaners´. The radio used to air notice and other awareness programme to help conserve the rare vultures.
Initially, the villagers got baffled with FM programme. However, it did not take enough time for them to understand that the vultures were not dirty creatures, but were meant to clean the debris in the environment.
Hence, no villagers dare to bid fare well the tree and was saved in the long run.
Over the years, with everyone’s surprise, the scavengers not only helped keep the village environment neat and clean, but also brought good fortunes to them because all the dirt and other carcass of the animal scattered around village polluting the environment has now become once time story.
With the positive impact of the predators in the society, everyone in the village is actively involved in conservation of vultures, resulting in significant rise in their population.
Until a few years ago, it was really difficult to get a glimpse of single vulture in the sky, however with the increased conservation attempts at the local levels, scores of them could be seen struggling to line up in the same tree, which the locals have renamed as Giddhe Simal (cotton silk tree of vultures).
Locals have become so used to these rare birds that they never miss to watch the flight of a large flock of vultures on their way to work or other destinations.
These vultures have become “a symbol of prosperity” for the villagers. They now realize that vultures are most crucial to keep the environment clean. Those locals who regarded these scavengers a symbol of bad omen until a few years ago now seem busy to conserve this rare creature.
Huge numbers of foreign and international tourists are reportedly attracted towards the cotton silk that houses hundreds of scavengers.
Interestingly, many children are often found counting the vultures that make too much noise in the evening.
“In the morning they hold silence. Then they begin to fight for food. And by the evening, they make too much noise,” a villager was quoted by a broadsheet Nepali national daily Nagrik.
Seeing the increasing activities of the vultures and their significance in the nature, Gidhdhe Restaurant has been set up close to the tree.
As many as 130 households among the consumers of the local Andheri Chharchhare Community Forest and the District Forest Office (DFO) are quite alert about vulture conservation.