India : the vultures are back

Twenty years ago, the parsis living in Bombay used to offer to the vultures their own dead. Since centuries, that’s the way parsis got rid of their dead. By respecting this tradition, none of the sacred elements ( air, earth, water, fire, ether) was polluted. Something essential for the parsis, a community that follow the teachings of Zoroaster ( a Persian prophet who lived in the VII°-VI° centuries). 

Now, there are no more vultures in the “towers of silence”( the places where the dead Parsis are left). Indeed, since the 90’s, millions of vultures in India have been decimated by an anti-inflamatory the indians used to administer to the cattle, diclofenac. So, parsis have replaced the scavengers of the skies by solar panels to get rid of their dead. But vultures could come back : two breeding farms should open near the towers of Malabar Hill ( in Bombay)…in 2014. If everything is OK, the vultures will replace the solar panels .  ( Solar energy is non operational during the monsoon.) It will cost 3.8 millions euros ( IRs 275.000.000, US$ 5.000.000) for the next 15 years : nothing for the parsis, the richest community in India.  “Most of the bird farms spend fortunes to buy meat, but for us, it’s free because the vultures eat carcasses, our own bodies,” says D.R. Mehta, the person in charge of the project.

In 1975, one of the “towers of silence” had to be closed following the construction of three high-rise buildings near the necropolis. Some dwellers didn’t like to have such a fantastic view over…the carcasses and the feeding of the scavengers !

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My blog is all about travelling and photography
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2 Responses to India : the vultures are back

  1. Diane C says:

    Just curious – how do they use solar panels to get rid of their dead?

    • Sun powered devices use the heat of the sun to dehydrate the body. So, it reduces the odor, it’s more hygienic. Even if there are no more vultures, there are other scavengers like crows, stray dogs who eat the remains.

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