Vultures to resume consuming dead in India

Nov. 30, 2012 at 3:19 PM

MUMBAI, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- The Parsi community in Mumbai says it will build aviaries at one of its most sacred sites so vultures can once again devour human corpses.

The plan comes after years of negotiations between Parsi leaders and the Indian government over restoration of a centuries-old Zoroastrian practice intended to protect the ancient elements -- air, earth, fire and water -- from being polluted by either burial or cremation, The New York Times reported.

With construction set to start in April, vultures may again consume the Parsi dead by January 2014, a Parsi spokesman said.

"Without the vultures, more and more Parsis are choosing to be cremated," Dinshaw Rus Mehta said. "I have to bring back the vultures so the system is working again, especially during the monsoon."

The Parsi community and the Indian government both said they hope the effort will also lead to the revival of two vulture species at risk of extinction.

The government would provide the initial population of birds, the Times reported.

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