[permaculture] Vulture dieoff in India

Keith Johnson keithdj at mindspring.com
Tue Feb 10 23:57:07 EST 2004

Now, how do we get meat from India to the vultures in the White House (I 
don't mean to insult vultures, for whom I have deep respect).

KATHMANDU, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Conservationists urged South Asian 
governments on Thursday to ban the use of a common painkiller for the 
treatment of farm animals, saying it threatens the survival of vultures 
in the region. A study by the Peregrine Fund, based in the United 
States, found vultures that ate the carcasses of animals treated with 
the drug were dying. The painkiller is also used in humans.

"The most effective step to save vultures is to ban the veterinary use 
of diclofenac," Richard Watson, programme director of the Peregrine 
Fund, told reporters at the start of a two-day meeting on vultures. 
"Awareness campaigns must be launched to encourage people to stop using 
diclofenac for animals," he said. Populations of the Oriental 
white-backed vulture, the long-billed vulture and the slender-billed 
vulture have fallen drastically during the decade that the drug has been 
used to treat animals in India, Pakistan and Nepal, researchers say. 
Experts say the three species of vultures found in the region are 
critically endangered in South Asia, with India losing about 95 percent 
of its vulture population and Pakistan 92 percent.

Vultures that feed on the carcasses of livestock given diclofenac build 
up levels of the drug high enough to trigger kidney failure, Watson said 
in findings reported in the British science journal Nature. The dramatic 
drop in population has created enormous problems for the ecosystem 
because vultures play a key role in keeping cities clean, by eating 
animal carcasses. It has also created a crisis for India's tiny Parsi 
community, which leaves its dead in stone towers to be eaten by vultures 
because its religion forbids burial and cremation.

Keith Johnson
Permaculture Activist Magazine
PO Box 1209
Black Mountain, NC 28711

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