This discussion was first published as part of the 2012 Red List update, but remains open for comment to enable reassessment in 2014.
Himalayan Vulture Gyps himalayensis is widespread in the mountains of China, South Asia and Central Asia. Although it is generally resident, the more nomadic juvenile and immature birds are known to descend to adjacent valleys and plains south of the Himalayas (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). It is listed as Least Concern on the basis that it was not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN criteria.
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence of less than 20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appeared to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (at least a 30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (fewer than 10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be at least 10% over ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure).
It has been suggested, however, that the species, like many vulture species in South Asia, is potentially being impacted by diclofenac, in particular when young birds descend to lowland areas in South and South-East Asia, where there is a high prevalence in the veterinary use of the drug by farmers (S. Mahood in litt. 2008, 2011; C. Bowden in litt. 2011). Prakash (1999) noted that a few juveniles of this species wintered in Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, from 1985-1986 to1991-1992 at least, but that none were recorded there in 1996-1997 and since. Such impacts of high juvenile mortality would likely result in a time lag before serious effects are seen in wider population trends; however, it remains necessary to collate trend data from various regions to find whether there has been any impact so far.
Further information is requested on the species’s population trends throughout its range, in addition to any evidence of threats, in particular the likely impact of diclofenac poisoning.
Ferguson-Lees, J. and Christie, D. A. (2001) Raptors of the World. London, UK: Christopher Helm.
Prakash, V. (1999) Status of vultures in Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan, with special reference to population crash in Gyps species. J. Bombay Natural History Society 96(3): 365-378.