- September 5, 2021
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Context: Endangered vulture population still under threat
- Vultures are nature’s most efficient scavengers, halting all the bacteria and fungus from spreading from dead animal carcasses in the environment.
- The seven species in Africa and eight species in India are threatened with extinction. India has lost 99 per cent population of the three species: White-backed Vulture, Long-billed Vulture and Slender-billed Vulture.
- The Red-headed and the Egyptian Vulture populations have also crashed by 91 per cent and 80 per cent respectively.
Reasons for Decline
- This catastrophic decline has been attributed to the use of diclofenac, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) in veterinary practice during the 1990s.
- Vultures are exposed to diclofenac when they feed on the carcass of an animal that has been treated with diclofenac, 72 hours before its death. Other NSAIDs like aceclofenac, ketoprofen, nimesulide, etc are harmful to vultures and still available for veterinary use in India.
- The drug is extremely toxic to vultures and impacts their kidneys and they die of visceral gout.
- The vulnerability is not only from retaliatory poisoning, electrocution or starvation. Thus, the government and other stakeholders need to ensure that the environment is free from drugs that are toxic to vultures.
- It is known that the drug affected only the three Gyps species of vultures.
- It was assumed that Cinerous vultures and Red-headed vultures were less affected because of their feeding behaviours. Cinerous and Red-headed vultures feed on tough meat like tendons and hide with less residue of any drug