March was not particularly eventful in terms of adventure and travel, but it did contain a few significant moments. On March 3, PhotoKTM came to an end, and the vulture release program took place at Jatayu Vulture Restaurant.

I am grateful to PhotoKTM and their team for the residency program, as well as Bird Conservation Nepal, Jatayu Vulture Restaurant, for the opportunity to explore and learn. These past few months have been enlightening.

I headed back to Kawasoti for the vulture release program that was happening on March 11. I had eagerly waited for this day since January as I was the artist in residency for PhotoKTM here in Kawasoti and observed the captive-bred White-rumped Vultures. With about a 90% decrease in population in the vulture population, this breeding program has become a success story.


As the sun started setting in the west exploring the area outside the Namuna Community Forest was delightful. The Simal trees were in full bloom, adorning the landscape with red flowers. Chestnut-headed bee-eaters were gracefully flying about and capturing bees in midair. Indian Roller was flying from one Simal tree to the other.

I also finally managed to locate the nesting area of the Egyptian Vulture which had only made a couple of appearances during my residency program. I had learned that their old nest was taken over by the White-rumped vulture for breeding and raising their chick.  


The following day, with the dignitaries and us inside the hide, the sliding door of the aviary, located about 100 meters away, was opened to release the final ten captive-bred White-rumped Vultures. With some carcass put outside the door to lure the vultures out, it took some time for all of them to come out and take it to the sky.


The aviary provided ample space for them to stretch their wings and fly from one end to the other, but the challenge now was for them to comprehend the vastness of the endless skies above. One by one, they emerged, had some food, and the more adventurous ones began test flights. The nearby Simal tree and the roof of the aviary became the perch.

The satellite-tagged and leg-banded birds will be monitored by Bird Conservation Nepal and Jatayu team for the next couple of months as the vultures search for new habitats. One of the risks for these newly released vultures is the lack of understanding about their strength.

Sometimes, they may fly for hours until exhaustion takes over, causing them to fall anywhere. To address this issue, the crew diligently follows and monitors the vultures day and night.


While some of the vultures took to the skies and perched in the nearby trees, a couple of them returned to the aviary after feeding on the carcass, as it had been their home for a while. It took a couple of hours before they finally stepped out and flew away. The aviary door was closed for the final time. The last of the White-rumped vultures from the final breeding program gracefully soared into the sky.

Content with what I was able to witness we made our way back to Kathmandu. Once in the city, with a few assignments to complete at home, my bird-watching opportunities were limited to the vicinity of my house.

I would notice the yearly loud kuoo…kuoo… calls by the Asian Koel that starts in March and continues till May during their breeding season. I could also hear the soft tsee…tsee…tsee song by the Oriental Whiteyes. The loud calls by the Rose-ringed Parakeet, the songs of the Common Tailorbird, and the call of the White-throated Kingfisher were also common throughout March.

As the days passed there was news of six vultures found dead near a Jackel carcass. It appeared to be another case of poisoning, possibly targeting the mammals. I recalled a similar incident back in April 2021 when 67 vultures had died after consuming a poisoned carcass of a couple of dogs.

This was one huge setback for vulture conservation and now, this year, another six vultures had met the same unfortunate fate. It is alarming to see humans resorting to poisoning food to protect their livestock, particularly chickens and goats, which indirectly endangers vultures and other scavengers who feed on this carrion. A highly dangerous outcome for the conservation of wildlife.

The picture below is of the safe feeding area in Jatayu Vulture Restaurant in Kawasoti.


Below are some of the species of flora and fauna that I was able to spot in March.

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, White-rumped Vultures, Himalayan vulture, Cinereous vulture, Red-headed vultures, Slender-billed vultures, Red-naped Ibis, Lesser Yellownape Woodpecker, Asian Openbill, Coppersmith Barbet, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Green Bee-eater, Paddyfield Pipit, Common Stonechat, Indian Roller, Intermediate Egret, Little Cormorant, Indian Peafowl, Red-wattled Lapwing, Common Kingfisher, Egyptian vulture, Red Junglefowl, Griffon vulture, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Greater Coucal, Pied Kingfisher, Grey-breasted Prinia, Spotted Dove, Black-hooded Oriole, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Eurasian Collared Dove, White Wagtail, White-breasted Waterhen, Long-tailed Shrike, Black Drongo, Common Tailorbird, Rufous Treepie, White-throated Kingfisher, Red-vented Bulbul, Common Myna, Pied Bushchat, Indian Pond Heron, etc.

Jungle Cat, Golden Jackel,

Simal Tree (Bombax ceiba), ), Sal (Shorea Robusta), Bakena tree (Melia azedarach), Curry Leaf Plant (Bergera koenigii), etc.

Ajay Narsingh Rana