Breeding centres


Because of the unprecedented scale and speed of the vulture population declines it is necessary to bring critically endangered vultures of all three resident Gyps species into captivity to ensure the survival of these species. Removing diclofenac from the environment will allow the eventual recovery of vulture populations, but because this process may in practise take several years it is essential to protect vultures in an environment where they will not be exposed to this drug. Captive breeding will enable the numbers of vultures to increase and will eventually allow the release of vultures back into the wild, once the vulture’s food source in Asia is free from diclofenac. The successful captive breeding and release programme of Eurasian Griffon vultures in Europe and the  captive breeding and release that saved the Californian Condor from extinction demonstrates that this approach will work. Without vulture conservation breeding centres it is very possible that resident Gyps vultures will become extinct across South Asia.



Vulture breeding centres in India


Dr Vibhu Prakash, Principal Scientist, BNHS, heads the vulture breeding programme in India and manages a large number of staff and complex range of activities varying from overseeing the construction of aviaries and facilities, organising the capture of vultures for the centres, to managing the feeding requirements and health of birds within the three centres. The involvement of BNHS in the capture and breeding of vultures in India continues to expand and the programme now holds 182 vultures in captivity at three centres in the states of Haryana, West Bengal and Assam.  With funding from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), India, the Indian Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has plans to establish a further four centres in India. The BNHS vulture conservation breeding programme is fully recognised by the CZA and Dr Vibhu Prakash is now advising the CZA on their bird breeding programmes. The World Association of Zoos and Aquarians (WAZA) has formerly recognised the vulture conservation breeding programme in India and Nepal (see news at this link). Crucial support and land for the breeding centres has come from state Forestry Departments within India. Governing councils have been formally established to oversee the running of the centres in India (follow this link for details on this).


Funding for the breeding programme in India was initially from the UK government’s Darwin Initiative, with most support now coming from the RSPB and other donors. Technical support on the management of birds and breeding at the centres is supplied by Jemima Parry-Jones of the National Bird of Prey Trust (NBPT) and veterinary guidance is provided by Dr Andrew Routh (Chief Veterinary Officer, ZSL). Further technical support to the breeding programme activities and the capture of birds for the centres is provided by the RSPB and ZSL. Information on the capture of vultures for the centres is found at this link.


Newsletters on the activities and progress of the vulture breeding centres in India are available at the Resources link.  Information and news on the successful rearing of the world’s first Oriental white-backed vultures to be bred in captivity is available at this link.

Vulture breeding centres in Nepal and Pakistan


Both Nepal and Pakistan have recognised the crucial role of breeding centres for the conservation of vultures and centres have been established in both countries in the last two years. In Nepal the centre has been established through a partnership of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC), the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) and Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN), with financial support and technical guidance provided by the ZSL and RSPB. WWF Pakistan with support from The Hawk Conservancy (UK) have established a breeding centre in Pakistan.


For further information on the breeding programmes follow the links below:


Vulture breeding centre in Nepal


Vulture breeding centre in Pakistan