The dramatic decline of vultures remains one of the poignant stories of wildlife conservation in India. The primary reason was a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory veterinary drug (NSAID), diclofenac. Being a pervasive drug, diclofenac would remain in cattle even after their death and be indirectly consumed by vultures, which then suffer fatal consequences. Consumption of diclofenac caused gout and kidney failure in three species of Gyps vultures; White-rumped (Gyps bengalensis), Long-billed (Gyps indicus), and Slender-billed (Gyps tenuirostris… Read More
Once the most common large raptor in the subcontinent, the white-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis) has undergone a 99.7% decline over its home range. One of four vultures listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of threatened species, this vulture is now regionally extinct in China, Myanmar, and Bangladesh.
The decline of this species in India was first noticed in Keoladeo National Park, and a country-wide population decline was noted between 2000-2007.
The widespread decline of vultures across South … Read More
Nepal Vulture Release Shows Removing Diclofenac is Key to Success
First release of captive-bred* vultures in Asia.
Nepal and Asia witnessed a further landmark for vulture conservation on 17th September 2018, when the Government of Nepal and national and international conservation organisations released 12 critically endangered White-rumped vultures (Gyps bengalensis), including the first eight birds actually hatched within the conservation breeding programme. Releases last year of birds reared (but not hatched) in the programme have so far shown very promising signs of survival and success, and in addition, … Read More
Mating Indian Vultures, Ramadevarabetta
In early February 2016, a few of us from Bangalore went to the Ramanagara rocks to see Shaheen Falcons (Falco peregrinus peregrinator). On our way back, we stopped over at the Ramadevarabetta Vulture Sanctuary. We reached the sanctuary around 11 am and spent 1.5 hours there observing the resident vultures. We saw five Long-billed or Indian Vultures (Gyps indicus) and a lone Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus).
There were two courting pairs of Indian Vultures, and we saw both … Read More
Dead Indian Vulture at Ramanagara, Karnataka
Ramnagara (or Ramadevarabetta) Vulture Sanctuary, with an area of 346.14 hectares, was declared as a Vulture Sanctuary on January 31, 2012. It has received attention from Bangalore’s ‘wildlifers’ and consequently, there have been a few interesting articles published about this area in the media. However, the story I am about to relate is not a pretty one and exposes the potential deficiencies in vulture conservation strategy.
While birding at Ramanagara on 14th June 2015, Vishnupriya and I scanned the cliffs … Read More
Steppe Eagle Shows Evidence of Diclofenac Toxicity
Population of three Gyps vultures — white-backed, long-billed vulture and slender-billed — in South Asia decreased by about 90% in the 1990s due to contamination of their carrion food supply with the anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac. Since 2006, the use of diclofenac has been banned in India. The IUCN Red Data Book has listed these vultures as ‘critically endangered’. Despite the ban, there is still some unauthorised (and illegal) veterinary misuse of diclofenac using multi-use vials meant for human consumption.
Shockingly, … Read More
Q: How long does Diclofenac remain toxic to vultures in the body of a cow?
Answer from Chris Bowden, International Species Recovery Officer & Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction (SAVE) Programme Manager:
Unfortunately, diclofenac remains potent to vultures for as long as it is in the tissues. A treated cow has very high levels of diclofenac in its tissues (especially in kidneys, liver, visceral organs as well as muscle tissues) for at least 3 days after treatment, after which it gradually reduces so that a week after treatment it is probably at safe levels … Read More
Life isn’t fair for the ‘King’!
As if going from widespread to critically endangered in a few decades (thanks to Diclofenac) wasn’t bad enough, king vultures also have to fend off competitors for their hard won meals; and sometimes the smaller, more nimble opponents take away the booty!
This particular encounter happened one morning in Ranthambhore National Park, as we waited at a spotted deer kill. The vulture flew in to polish off the remains while the tigress was away. But its chances of a … Read More
Dog chasing Griffon Vulture
I shot this photograph at Jorbeer, Bikaner. There is a dump-yard where carcasses (cattle, camels, etc) from all over the city are dumped. During winter, a large number of Eurasian Griffons (Gyps fulvus) gather here. Even last year, over a 1000 Griffons congregated here. They are also joined by Himalayan Griffons and Cinereous vultures, in smaller numbers. I counted about 30 cinereous vultures there this weekend. That apart, this place also attracts a very large number of Steppe … Read More
Public Lecture: The Magnificent Vulture – End of the Road? — New Delhi, 20th March 2013
Toxics Link and India International Centre cordially invite you to a discussion on “The Magnificent Vulture – End of the Road?”.
Eminent speaker: Dr. Vibhu Prakash – Principal Scientist, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).
Session Moderator: Ravi Agarwal – Director, Toxics Link.
RSVP: Rambha Tripathy, H-2, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi – 110014, Phone: +91-11- 24320711, 24328006
Organised by: Toxics Link… Read More
FDA Maharashtra Issues Order on Diclofenac Malpractices in Veterinary : A Step forward
Recent pilot surveys by our team indicated a significant lack of awareness as well as rampant malpractice among stakeholders with respect to the veterinary use of (banned) diclofenac in Pune district, Maharashtra. Typical issues reported were :
- Lack of knowledge on the ban on veterinary use of diclofenac.
- Unrestricted over the counter sale of diclofenac for veterinary use.
- Easy access to human formulations of diclofenac for veterinary use.
These issues were raised with senior forest officers. In response to the … Read More
Declaration of a Vulture Sanctuary in Karnataka
In 2005 a project was proposed for carving out a 217m tall Buddha statue out of a huge 270 m monolith of Handigundi that faces the Mysore – Bangalore road close to Ramanagaram in Karnataka. Many concerned nature lovers strongly opposed this proposal. They argued that it would not just desecrate a hillock and hill range of great antiquity, but also cause irreparable damage to a habitat that was home to a large number of birds, sloth bears and leopards.… Read More
The Official Ramadevarabetta Vulture Sanctuary Notification
Here is the official Notification, declaring Ramadevarabetta as a Vulture Sanctuary (courtesy @bngbirds).
Government of Karnataka No. F.E.E.234.S.W.L. 2009, dated January 31, 2012
Whereas the Govt. of Karnataka in excise of the powers confered under Section 26A of the Wildlife Protection) Act. 1972 (Ammended in 2003) (Central Act 53 of 1972) has considered the area, situation and limits which are specified in the Schedule notification of the Government of His Highness Maharaja of Mysore State, Notrification No. R-2992-FT-61-17-4 … Read More
Effective or Not? Has the Ban on Diclofenac to Save India’s Vultures Worked?
The results of a study published in 2011, five years after the ban in 2006, says yes, there has been a perceptible change in the use of diclofenac for veterinary use. But there is much more work to be done for the ban to be a success and for the country to see a rise in vulture populations.
The Indian subcontinent lost 95 per cent of its vultures in just 15 years. Of the eight species of vultures found in … Read More