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  • Context (IE): Moyar Valley stands out as an exceptional breeding ground for Gyps vultures in southern India.
  • Unlike other states in the region, Tamil Nadu hosts a thriving population of these majestic birds.

Moyar Valley

  • The Moyar Valley stretches approximately 85 km from Gudalur through the core area of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve within the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve in Tamil Nadu.
  • It weaves through a picturesque landscape of hills and deep gorges, creating a rich and diverse habitat.
  • This valley serves as a wildlife haven, sheltering several vital species: Tigers, Elephants, gaurs, ungulates like spotted deer, blackbuck, sambar and the critically endangered Gyps vulture.
  • It is the only region in peninsular India where the largest nesting colony of Gyps vultures can be found in the wild.
  • Carcasses of wildlife from Moyar village to Bhavanisagar serve as a vital food source for vultures.
  • These carcasses are mostly free from harmful substances like NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and other poisonous chemicals.

Gyps Vultures

  • Members of the genus Gyps are often referred to as griffon vultures.
  • Physical Characteristics:
    • Slim head and a long, slender neck covered with downy feathers.
    • Possess a distinctive ruff around the neck formed by long buoyant feathers.
    • Crown of their large beaks is slightly compressed, with big dark nostrils set transversely to the beak.
    • Typically have 6 or 7 wing feathers, with the first being the shortest and the fourth being the longest.
  • The genus Gyps comprises eight extant species of Old World vultures.
  • Conservation status: IUCN Status: Critically Endangered

Ecological Significance

  • Gyps vultures are keystone species, contributing to ecosystem health by scavenging carcasses.
  • Their presence helps maintain a balance in the food chain and prevents the spread of diseases.
  • Keystone Species is a species whose addition to or loss from an ecosystem leads to significant changes in the occurrence of at least one other species.
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