Jorbeer, India (photos may be disturbing to some, please use caution)

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Strong dust storms, shifting dunes, and hundreds of cattle carcasses can be found in this remote area of Bikaner.   I stood for a long time, amazed at the scene, taking it all in.  I wanted to learn more about this fascinating place.

I found out that Jorbeer is a major source of food availability for vultures, about 20-35 carcasses are dumped per day by the municipal board and local townspeople.  They are placed here on the outskirts of town to help the dwindling vulture populations.

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In the early 1990s, vultures of India and South Asia were among the most abundant large raptors in the world. However, within a decade, the populations of three species, White-rumped Vulture (Gyps bengalensis), Indian Vulture (G. indicus), and Slender-billed Vulture (G. tenuirostris), had declined so sharply that all three are considered Critically Endangered.

Extensive research identified the cause of the decline to be ‘diclofenac’, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to treat livestock. Any vultures feeding on the carcasses of animals recently treated with the drug suffered renal failure and died.

I was surprised to find out that cattle, so honored in India, were given drugs. It doesn’t coincide with my picturesque view of cows wandering the streets of India waiting for their chapati. Apparently it was used to treat the symptoms of inflammation, fever or pain associated with disease or wounds.

The loss of vultures resulted in a sharp increase in the number of feral dogs around carcass dumps—the bites of these dogs are the most common cause of human rabies in the region.  A 2008 study estimated that, concurrent with the vulture die-off, there was more than a 5.5 million increase in the feral dog population.  This resulted in 38.5 million additional dog bites and more than 47,300 additional rabies deaths.

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The drug, diclofenac, was banned in 2006, and recent surveys suggest vulture numbers have stabilized in India resulting from this ban.  Although the vulture population has stabilized, the numbers remain very low across the region and any recovery will be slow.

Seven different species of vultures have been recorded here in Jorbeer; however, I only observed the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) during my visit.  This vulture is classified as an Endangered species and is a year round resident of this area.

Egyptian Vulture.

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Steppe and Tawny Eagles

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Feral Dogs

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Indian House Crows

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Indian Cattle Egret

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The scene

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These young men live on the outskirts of the dumping area.  They skin the carcasses and make leather products from them.  They sell these products to help provide income for their families.  

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I would like to thank Indrajit Ghorpade for telling me about this place, and for helping me correctly identify the birds located at this site.

About EssentialYoga Studio

Roberta has been practicing yoga since 1988 and has been teaching yoga since 1994. She has trained under master yoga teachers Swami Padmananda, Patricia Walden, Manouso Manos, Father Joe Pereira, Zoë Stewart, Karin Stephan, Liz Owen and others. She continues to study with her Iyengar teachers, Patricia Walden and Peentz Dubble. Roberta has studied yoga at the Ramamani Iyengar Yoga Memorial Institute in Pune, India during June 2011, February 2014 and attended Abhijata's intensive in Pune, India December 2016. Roberta is currently enrolled in Peentz Dubble's two year Iyengar Yoga Teacher Training Program. Additionally, Roberta completed training and certification with Elise Browning Miller as 'Yoga for Scoliosis' instructor. She completed a 500 hour Hatha Yoga Certification program with AURA Wellness Center and is registered with Yoga Alliance as an E-RYT 500. She has been a Certified Meditation Teacher since June 2007 and has been an Usui Reiki Practitioner since 1989. Roberta's Personal Practice Philosophy: Health issues have changed and deepened my practice. You will see many photos of me using a variety of props. On days I don't feel well, instead of saying, "I can't practice today", Iyengar Yoga has taught me to say, "How can I practice today".
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2 Responses to Jorbeer, India (photos may be disturbing to some, please use caution)

  1. Chinmay says:

    Hi! Lovely writeup 🙂 Just a small nitpick. Most of the eagles in your images are Steppe Eagles (Aquila nipalensis). Note the gape line which reaches almost to the end of the eye, pale chin and the broad underwing bands. The Tawny Eagle will have the gape line reaching the middle of the eye and will not show the broad white underwing bands

    Cheers!

    • Chinmay! Thank you. I knew they were eagles by their faces, but had to rely on someone else to tell me what kind! I will look at them today and try to sort them out. I may ask for your help!
      Thanks again.
      Om shanti,
      Roberta 😀

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