Jatayu Restaurant (JR), the name might give you an eccentric feeling of curiosity and oddness but reality is, it’s not a conventional restaurant that address the apatite, perhaps its bizarre of its kind. To be specific, it is a conservational site, established with the theme to conserve the decreasing population of two rare species of vultures’ namely White-rumped Gyps bengalensis and Slender-billed Gyps tenuirostris. Practically settling down from its name and visualizing its periphery is yet another amazement. The restaurant not only evades the bad image of the natural scavengers but provides an overwhelming platform to learn and to observe the behavioral aspect of this king of birds. Nevertheless, synchronizing the graphic and bloody scene might be an interest for researchers but for lighthearted people, it’s just a scene of a horror which explicates an open fest of bloody and fleshy carcass where hundreds of birds line up for their meal. The restaurant also houses a hide for the visitors to watch the fest where interested bird enthusiasts can learn more about the bird species. The restaurant is famous among travelers, tourists and bird enthusiasts as a wonder land where as for the locals, it’s a new concept of conservation adapting the ecological demand. In the year 2006, when the number of Vulture population plumed down, a situation of ecological turmoil ruled in. Suddenly attention was diverted towards the reasons behind the turmoil where researchers came to know about implication of the Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID) Diclofenac on the bird species. Highlighting the need of time, Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN) played a crucial role in raising awareness about the issue. As the number of vulture population decreased, the dead carcasses were left aside to decay, spreading diseases and threatening the environment. The cause behind was the bird feasted on the contaminated dead animal carcass treated with Diclofenac, which was toxic to the bird species. In addition, the consumption of the medicine from the death carcass resulted in the death of the bird which slacked the vulture population. On the result of that the BCN established a community-run sanctuary named Jatayu (Vulture) Restaurant at Pithauli, Nawalparasi District which catered the extinct species with the fresh carcass uncontaminated with Diclofenac. They first setup a community shed where cows and buffalos outgrown their productive age are sheltered and after their death. They would be skinned out and fed at the JR to the birds. Additionally, adapting the trend the community shelter pays NRs 200 per animal to the donors which were previously exported to India. The community shed currently is running under the financial support of United Nation Development Programme’s Global Environment Facility and Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB). The entire management of this restaurant is managed under the local community with technical support from BCN. Likewise, a study of Nepal’s 75 districts by BCN finds that the use of Diclofenac has dropped by 90 percent since 2006, thanks to work of BCN and its partners like Nepalese government (Department of Drug Administrative and Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation) the numbers are growing creating and alerting people about their ecological importance and conservation of these nature scavengers. Currently at its 2nd year the habitat has certainly double the birds’ number giving them a new hope for future where JR has established itself as a unique and model sanctuary managed under public partnership.
By Shreedeep Rayamajhi