Diclofenac ban to slow down vulture decline: Study

May 12th, 2011 - 5:49 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 12 (IANS) The ban on veterinary drug diclofenac, which was administered to cattle in India, is expected to slow down the decline in the number of vultures who feed on animal carcasses, a study said here Thursday.

“The study shows that the proportion of cattle carcasses in India contaminated with diclofenac has declined by over 40 percent between the year 2006 and 2008,” said the study published in US-based journal PloS ONE, conducted by Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and UK-based Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

As scavengers, vultures provide important ecological service as they help in rapidly reducing animal carcasses and plants to simpler constituents, maintaining the food chain and ecosystem.

The use of the painkiller diclofenac was banned in India, Nepal and Pakistan in 2006, when it was noticed that vultures died after they fed on the carcasses of cattle that had been treated with diclofenac shortly before their death.

“The rate of annual population decline of vultures in South Asia is expected to slow down by about two-thirds. The decline rate is expected to be about 18 percent per annum for the most vulnerable vulture species,” added the report.

BNHS director Asad Rahmani said: “Complete removal of diclofenac from vulture food is the single most important action needed to save vultures. Meloxicam is a safe alternative and is slowly becoming popular now that its cost is falling and approaching that of diclofenac.”

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