Wednesday 16 April, 2014

Cause of vultures being on verge of extinction in India, Pakistan identified

Published On: Fri, Nov 18th, 2011 | Wildlife | By BioNews

Two US researchers have found the cause of the unprecedented decline in the population of vultures in India and neighbouring Pakistan.

Lindsay Oaks and Richard Watson, from The Peregrine Fund in the US, have revealed that a veterinary drug residue in cattle and livestock carcasses is killing most of the South Asian vultures, leaving them on the brink of extinction.

They discovered the vultures were being poisoned by residues of an anti-inflammatory drug (diclofenac) used in cattle and other livestock, whose carcasses they feed on.

“The story is far from over and the stakes are high. The failure to effectively control carcass contamination by diclofenac will likely lead to extinction of these magnificent birds which, through their scavenger role, have controlled the spread of infectious disease for millennia, as well as provided other important ecological services,” the researchers said.

Oaks and Watson described their scientific investigations, including their many challenges and setbacks, following the unprecedented decline in the population of two of the world’s most abundant raptors – the Oriental White-backed vulture and the Long-billed vulture – in India in the 1990s, and neighbouring Pakistan by the early 2000s.

They describe how they were able to prove that the commonly used anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac, fed to ailing cattle and other livestock, was being ingested by the wild birds feeding on the carcasses and causing visceral gout, a manifestation of renal failure.

In spite of the researchers’ 10-year crusade and significant accomplishments, veterinary diclofenac continues to be used widely and illegally almost four years after the drug was banned, leaving the fate of wild Gyps vultures in doubt.

The authors highlight a number of potential measures, which could lead to a more effective implementation of the ban.

Their work has been presented in a chapter of the new book, Wildlife Ecotoxicology – Forensic Approaches, published by Springer.

Displaying 8 Comments
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  1. Mohsin Bashir says:

    vultures are amazing & strange class of Birds, and it should be preserved before extinction by creating an alternative drugs.

  2. Shahid Baig says:

    I think Diclofenac would not be the only possibility but probably some other toxins as well. The rapid decline and almost extinction of vultures has been since last 30 years. At that time the anti inflammatory drugs and it’s use animals was not common. There was no large scale cattle forms and even now farmers are ignorant in use of such drugs inPakistan. Having said that there is no doubt that use of steroids and antibiotics use is rampant in these countries.

  3. Syed Abulhasan says:

    I had read the link between a veterinary drug and the extinction of vultures in India/Pakistan an year or so ago. This is not really a revealing report.

  4. The Indian bald vulture which were in abundance in most of the states live inherds and are considered as scavengers. They fly high above in flocks hunting for carcasses. Their habitat are reduced by increased industrialization and population. Papers were published some years back about their extinction due to DECLOFENAC, a pain killer, anti inflammatory and anti flatulent. It is used extensively in veterinary practice and the carcasses of dead animals are left in the open for the scavenging animals and birds including Vultures, which get poisoned. if the animal treated do not survive the crisis the level of the drug in the body will be quite high. The birds may be saved by properly disposing off the dead bodies by incinerating or burying. It is to the scientists to educate the public to save the vultures.

  5. Dr. Kartikay Pandey says:

    Diclofenac was recognized long back as the cause of Vultures’ death. This issue was even debated in Indian Parliament in 2005-2006, where demands of banning Diclofenac were raised. Thus, there is nothing new in this study.

  6. llkumar says:

    vultures who feed on animal carcass may be decreasing. However, the vultures that feed on live humans( poor and downtrodden) have been constantly on increase. Any Declofenac for that, pl.?

  7. Sharmistha Kar says:

    It is not a new discovery.

  8. Dr. Azhar Sherkheli says:

    This is a very old story which was first published in a Nature issue in year 2003/2004! I wonder for what scientific worth this gets coverage again???????

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