Vulture news from India

This video about India is called Vanishing Vultures.

After the good Ecuadorean condor news, also good news about their somewhat smaller, but still big, relatives in India.

From Wildlife Extra:

Birdlife India to establish vulture safe zone

January 2014: A 30,000 km2 Vulture Safe Zone in the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh is to be created by BirdLife in India (BNHS), in association with Rio Tinto and BirdLife International.

A bit of not so good news in this good news is the role of Rio Tinto, a corporation with a dismal anti-environment record. I understand that BirdLife in India can use sponsor money. But for Rio Tinto, this looks like a caser of greenwashing public relations.

The populations of white-rumped vulture Gyps bengalensis, Indian vulture G. indicus and slender-billed vulture G. tenuirostris have lost up to 99 percent of their population across the Indian subcontinent, and all three species are now classified as Critically Endangered, thanks to diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory drug.

Studies found that a single cattle carcass treated with diclofenac was enough to induce renal failure and visceral gout in the entire vulture population of the surrounding area.

“Although a safe alternative drug, meloxicam, is available, the wild population continues to be under constant threat of diclofenac poisoning, because people are unaware of the link with the disappearance of vultures. These birds provide an essential service by keeping towns and countryside clean and free from diseases, including rabies”, said Samir Whitaker, the Rio Tinto-BirdLife Programme Manager. “It is therefore important that concerted efforts are made in the areas where there are extant populations of vultures, to raise awareness and save these very useful birds from extinction. The concept of Vulture Safe Zones will play a vital role in the long-term survival of vultures in South Asia.”

The BNHS, Rio Tinto and BirdLife International will conduct targeted awareness activities and cattle carcass sampling alla cross the area to ensure that no diclofenac or other veterinary drugs toxic to vultures are administered to cattle. If proved successful it is hoped in the future, adjacent areas could be converted into similar safe zones, creating a much larger diclofenac-free zone and enabling the vultures to once again establish self-sustaining populations.

Diclofenac is illegal in India, but is still sold nevertheless.

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9 thoughts on “Vulture news from India

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