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Diclofenac kills 99.9% of all known…..vultures?

25 June 2010

This is not new (e.g. National Geographic, 2004), and I heard it again last night on a Radio 4 programme – Saving Species – vets in India, Pakistan and Nepal prescribe the common anti-inflammatory to cattle, some of these animals die, the birds eat the carcasses that contain diclofenac residue which affects their kidneys and they get visceral gout and die.

Since the mid 90’s the population of three species of vultures has dropped from about 40 million to just a few thousand today – decimating the numbers of the Indian White-rumped Vulture (Gyps bengalensis), long-billed vulture (Gyps indicus), and slender-billed vulture (Gyps tenuirostris) by more than 99.9%.

What’s the effect – nobody around to clean up carcasses leading to a proliferation in packs of feral dogs and increased possibilities for spreading rabies.

It’s amazing how easy it is for us to spin our ecology off it’s axis. Let’s hope we can fix it.

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From → Health, Science

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