Vultures are crucial components of ecosystems as they perform important ecological and aesthetic functions. They provide sanitation services by feeding on carcasses, which would otherwise decay and possibly become a source of disease affecting the health of other animals. In the last few decades, populations have declined drastically, mainly due to the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac used in India, Pakistan, and Nepal. In the current study, we investigated the abundance of vultures inhabiting Pir Lasura National Park in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan, from September 2015 to August 2016. We recorded three vulture species, including near-threatened Himalayan Griffons (Gyps himalayensis), endangered Egyptian Vultures (Neophron percnopterus) and critically endangered White-rumped Vultures (Gyps bengalensis), distributed across elevations ranging from 560–1530 masl. The Himalayan Griffons were the most common in the surveyed region (n = 128 individuals), followed by White-rumped Vultures (n = 48 individuals), and Egyptian Vultures (n = 41 individuals). Mean numbers of birds at roosts ranged from 7–20 for Himalayan Griffons, 14–26 for Egyptian Vultures, and 15–23 for White-rumped Vultures. We also identified a previously unknown roost of White-rumped Vultures that could be a potentially important area of conservation focus given the decline of this species in Pakistan. Due to declining populations in other parts of the world, the vulture populations we studied should be regularly monitored as a partial assessment of their conservation needs.
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Vol. 53 • No. 2