Twelve vultures of endangered Himalayan Griffon species which were rescued during the last winter are set to return to nature on Saturday under a rehabilitation campaign, forest officials said today.
They said the vultures were recovered from different neighbourhoods across the country during the past several months as they lost their flying capacities due to sickness.
"The forest department with the International Nature Conservation Union (IUCN) supports rescued the creatures and now is set to be released to the Singra National Park in Dinajpur," forest conservator Jahidul Kabir told BSS.
He added: "We will release the vultures through a ceremony at the (Singra) park on March 17".
Kabir, who is in-charge of forest department's nature and wildlife conservation circle, said exhaustion due to long flights sickened the vultures, one of the two of their species found in this region.
Experts feared the food shortage too could make the vultures weakened and incapacitated.
"Nearly 40 vultures fell down to ground during their migration period in winter...this year we rescued 20 Himalayan Griffons from different parts of the country," IUCN Bangladesh's principal vulture investigator ABM Sarowar Alam said.
He said 12 of these migratory birds would now be released as they regained flying fitness.
The Forest Department and IUCN Bangladesh in association with UK-based Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) set up the first-ever vulture rescue centre at Singra forest in Birganj upazila in 2017.
Alam said every year, nearly 100 Himalayan Griffon vultures travel to Bangladesh from the Himalayan range, covering Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Bangladesh.
He said the Himalayan Griffon vulture was one of the remaining migratory species while Bangladesh was exclusive roaming ground of another vulture species - the White-rumped vulture - which too was declared endangered.
Forest department statistics suggests that there are only 268 white- rumped vultures and about 100 Himalayan Griffon vultures in Bangladesh.
Officials and experts said several migratory Himalayan Griffon vultures which fell down during their flights were killed by residents in the neighbourhoods while some of them could be rescued by the forest workers to be treated.
Forest officials said 56 Himalayan Griffons were rescued from different parts of the country from 2014 to 2017.
Experts said habitat loss, food shortage and use of toxic veterinary drugs on domestic animals virtually exposed the vultures, called nature cleaners, to a state of extinction from Bangladesh.
They largely identified toxic veterinary drugs -- Diclofenac and Ketoprofen - as main culprits for rapid decline of the country's vulture population as after eating carcass of dead animals with the toxin they immediately suffer from kidney failure, a phenomenon of biological amplification.