Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bad news for Asian vultures.

A day necessarily spent at home dealing with some arrangements and admin .matters. A shame too as the day was fine ,bright and crisp!.

News has come that vultures in South -east Asia are again being affected very badly by another "veterinary" drug. Research has indicated that, of every 1000 White-rumped Vultures in the 1980's, only one remains today, the decline brought about by the drug diclofenac, which is used to treat cattle. Any cattle then dying fall prey to the vultures and the residues passed on , which are lethal in accumulated doses.

Regrettably a second livestock treatment, ketoprofen, has also been found to be lethal to birds and is currently compounding the previous problems created by diclofenac. Tighter controls are being called for and a switch to a drug called meloxican , which has non-toxic effects on birds .

Whereas millions of vultures are calculated to have been present across India/Pakistan/ Nepal in the 1980's , huge areas are now devoid of birds. The race is now on to bring about a culture change in the use of such drugs, primarily towards the exclusive adoption of meloxican. The situation appears to be critical , as statements from some conservation bodies that ," of any two birds present last year one will now be dead", give an indication of the crisis point things have reached. However, there is no indication such "tabloid statements " are based on survey results or are surmise designed to provoke action! Clearly there is a major problem which demands to be addressed in immediate terms. Given the large numbers of kites present in some parts of the areas above I have not seen any commentary as to whether their populations are being affected too. Thankfully their scavenging habits are more widely based than those of vultures.

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