Photo credit: Radio Sai
Previous blog entries mentioning vultures:
Update - May 25th, 2011
Quick update - Dec 17th, 2009
International Vulture Awareness Day - Sep 5th, 2009
Misc updates: vultures needed - Jul 26th, 2009
Science and side effects... - Oct 29th, 2008
Earlier blog entries, see above, discussed the die-off of vultures in India and the consequences, from the proliferation of packs of wild dogs to the difficulties faced by Parsees in their burial practices... Well, apparently vultures and eagles in Europe are now dying from the same causes. And Bombay's Parsees are still struggling with the dearth of vultures...
When Dinshaw Tamboly was about eight years old, he attended a Parsi funeral for the first time. His grandfather had passed away and his body was taken to Doongerwadi, Mumbai’s Towers of Silence, as the community’s traditional funeral site is known...
As a trustee, Tamboly had been given charge of the upkeep of the area, a 54-acre patch of land on the eastern slope of uptown Malabar Hills that is often described as a mini-forest. Despite the rule that no one but corpse-bearers can visit the three wells where cadavers are left for vultures, Tamboly visited them to investigate the matter. “What I saw was horrible,” he says. “There were piles of hundreds of corpses in different stages of decomposition, rotting in the open. When I looked around, there was not a single vulture around,” he says. Asked, the corpse-bearers there told him that rather few vultures ever descended to the wells, leaving corpses uneaten for long periods of time. Other avian visitors such as crows and kites would sometimes fly off with and drop pieces of flesh on the terraces of nearby houses and balconies of buildings...
The issue has created a deep rift within the community. Zoroastrian high priests have strictly forbidden cremation and burial, branding all those who choose or advocate these as ‘renegades’; fire and earth are holy under the tenets of the faith and are not to be defiled..." Read on.