Here is a fascinating story from the point of view of scientific research, and a very sad one, from the point of view of conservation: Smithsonian magazine on the near-extinction of the vulture species Gyps Indicus. The human angle of the conservation effort is well captured in the accompanying interview with the author Susan McGrath:

What was it like to accompany the scientists when they captured the chicks?

It was very poignant for me watching the parent vultures come to feed their chicks on the cliffs where we were capturing them. We were capturing them to save their lives and save their species, but it was still sad. Adult vultures don’t defend the nest—they’re very long-lived birds, and it’s much better, evolutionarily-speaking, not to risk the lives of adult birds for one season’s young. So the adults would just move away, but they’d land on another ledge somewhere and watch us taking their chicks. Of course I indulged all my anthropomorphic maternal feelings, thinking of my own chicks thousands of miles away at home. The biologists didn’t feel that way at all, because they were thinking, “Oh, God it’s going to throw up on us!” That was funny, because I was saying, “Aw, I hate to see that,” and they said, “Oh, so do we!”

The article itself is a must-read, though, there is some stereotypical nonsense — like this one, for example:

India doesn’t cull dogs because of Hindu and Buddhist prohibitions on taking life.

As this article points out,

Thanks to the efforts made by HIS and other Indian animal welfare organizations, the torturous killing of street dogs as a method of population control has been stopped in major Indian cities. In 1995, the first court ruling asking a municipality to adopt alternatives to killing was that of the Delhi High Court in response to a lawsuit filed by Maneka Gandhi, India’s animal welfare minister, whose mission is to protect the country’s animals and educate its people about animal welfare .

and, not culling dogs has got nothing to do with any religious practice.

PS: Cross posted at Entertaining Research.