The Sigur Plateau is a vast plateau situated in the Nilgiri District of Tamil Nadu, covering an area of 778.8 square kilometres (300.7 sq mi). It lies on the northern slopes of the Nilgiri Hills, connecting several protected areas, including the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, which is part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
Rich in biodiversity, the plateau is home to numerous species of flora and fauna, including elephants, tigers, leopards, wild boars, and several bird species. The area is also known for its high conservation value and has been identified as an important corridor for the movement of wildlife.
Vultures at Risk from Poisoning
Despite its ecological significance, the Sigur Plateau is facing numerous threats. A recent study conducted by the Centre for Wildlife Studies between 2018 and 2021 has warned that vultures in the area are at risk from poisoning events due to the availability of harmful non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) near their habitats.
The study highlighted the dependence of vultures on cattle carcasses as food sources in the area, which could be a contributing factor to the poisoning events. Vultures play a critical role in the ecosystem by scavenging and removing animal carcasses, preventing the spread of diseases and reducing the risk of other scavengers such as dogs and rats from spreading diseases.
Invasive Plant Species
Apart from the risk of poisoning, the study also identified the decreasing availability of expansive areas for vultures due to invasive plant species such as Lantana camara. This invasive species has replaced many of the vultures’ traditional feeding habitats, leading to a decline in their population.
To protect the vulture population and conserve the ecological significance of the Sigur Plateau, several conservation efforts have been put in place. The Tamil Nadu Forest Department has set up several vulture restaurants to provide safe and uncontaminated food sources for vultures.
Apart from this, efforts are also underway to control the spread of invasive plant species and increase the availability of suitable feeding habitats for vultures. The conservation efforts are also aimed at promoting sustainable development practices and ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources.
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