Indian vultures news update


This video says about itself:

Vulture Sanctuary, Jorbeer, India

8 March 2014

Jorbeer is a major source of food availability for vultures, about 20-35 carcasses are dumped per day by the municipal board and local townspeople. They are placed here on the outskirts of town to help the dwindling vulture populations.

In the early 1990s, vultures of India and South Asia were among the most abundant large raptors in the world. However, within a decade, the populations of three species, White-rumped Vulture (Gyps bengalensis), Indian Vulture (G. indicus), and Slender-billed Vulture (G. tenuirostris), had declined so sharply that all three are considered Critically Endangered.

Extensive research identified the cause of the decline to be ‘diclofenac‘, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to treat livestock. Any vultures feeding on the carcasses of animals recently treated with the drug suffered renal failure and died.

The loss of vultures resulted in a sharp increase in the number of feral dogs around carcass dumps—the bites of these dogs are the most common cause of human rabies in the region. A 2008 study estimated that, concurrent with the vulture die-off, there was more than a 5.5 million increase in the feral dog population. This resulted in 38.5 million additional dog bites and more than 47,300 additional rabies deaths.

The drug, diclofenac, was banned in 2006, and recent surveys suggest vulture numbers have stabilized in India resulting from this ban. Although the vulture population has stabilized, the numbers remain very low across the region and any recovery will be slow.

From Wildlife Extra:

Vulture deaths down by a third since deadly drug ban

Since the 2006 ban the number of vultures dying from the drug diclofenac in India has reduced by more than a third a study carried out between 2005 and 2009 has found.

The vulture-toxic veterinary drug was banned from use in India in 2006, and since then the number of livestock carcasses found containing the drug has halved. However, experts say that six percent of carcasses are still contaminated with diclofenac, despite its use to treat livestock now being illegal.

Vulture deaths have not completely stopped because the drug is still licensed for human use and Indian pharmaceutical companies are manufacturing it in vials large enough to treat livestock. Therefore some veterinary surgeons and livestock owners continue to choose diclofenac over the vulture-safe alternative, meloxicam.

“The findings of our study are both good news and bad news,” said Dr Toby Galligan, RSPB conservation scientist and co-author of this study. “The good news is that veterinary use of diclofenac in India has decreased significantly; the bad news is that it has not stopped completely.

“Six percent of livestock carcasses remain contaminated with diclofenac, which equates to 1 in 200 vultures dying from diclofenac poisoning every time they feed. This might not sound like much, but we know that the death of three in 200 vultures per meal was enough to have caused the catastrophic declines.”

Ten years ago three species of South Asian vulture faced near-extinction because of widespread use of diclofenac to treat livestock, the carcasses of which were their main food source. In particular the Oriental White-backed vulture declined by more than 99.9 per cent in just 15 years.

“We’ve come so far and this is turning into one of the biggest conservation success stories ever – an additional South Asia-wide ban on diclofenac in vials larger than 3ml will contribute greatly to the recovery of vultures,” said Galligan.

Other stories on diclofenac and vultures

Vulture killing drug now available on EU market: here.

Birdlife India to establish vulture safe zone: here.

Three bears rescued from poachers in Nepal


This video is called Close encounter with a Sloth BearYala National Park – Sri Lanka.

From Wildlife Extra:

Three bears rescued from poachers are doing well

After being rescued from poachers in Nepal by Wildlife SOS and International Animal Resuce (IAR) in December 2013, three sloth bears are reported to be doing well.

The bears had been kept by poachers until they had grown large enough for sale, and when they were old enough had been taken to India in an attempt to sell them to the Kalandar community, who had traditionally used bears for dancing. However, the practice of keeping dancing bears was made illegal in India in 1972, and in 2009 all dancing bears in the country were liberated. The poachers found that, as the Kalandar community no longer maintains the dancing bear tradition, they could not sell them the bears. As a result, the animals were taken back to Nepal, where it is believed they would have been sold to make bear paw soup.

They were fortunately apprehended by Wildlife SOS and local police from the forestry department. The bears, named Bean, Bintha, and Bobby, were moved to Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park in Ranchi for care, before being relocated to the Wildlife SOS Sanctuary where they are being cared for and rehabilitated with help from International Animal Rescue (IAR).

The oldest bear, Bean, was three-years-old when he was rescued from the poachers. He was found with a rope pierced through his nose, and his canines had been removed, most likely without anesthetic. Vets removed the rope from his nose and treated him for pain.

Bintha, who was 11-months-old at the time of rescue, also had her nose pierced and harnessed with a rope, and although it has healed, she still bears the scars.

According to Wildlife SOS, Bobby is the more reserved of the three. After he has spent time learning the basics of being a wild sloth bear in the sanctuary’s socialisation enclosure, he will be given access to a free-roaming area where he can live like a wild bear, but with the added security of having the Wildlife SOS team on-hand. All the bears now have a clean bill of health and continue to improve, socialising with the other bears at the sanctuary.

Sloth bears, which are found in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka (the Sri Lankan sloth bear), have been traditionally used as dancing bears. They are classified as vulnerable by the IUCN, with currently about 20,000 alive in the wild.