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  • India possesses a wide range of vulture species. Vulture population has come under a threat due to the medicine, ‘diclofenac’.
  • It is an anti-inflammatory drug administered mainly to animals. There are certain forms of diclofenac used for human beings as well.
  • Vultures consume carcass of dead animals. The carcass of dead animals may have leftover deposits of diclofenac in their body.
  • Consumption of diclofenac leads to disturbances in the metabolism which ultimately leads to renal (kidney) failure in vultures.

Symptoms before Renal Failure in Vultures

  • Visceral gout: Visceral gout means the accumulation of uric acid in the internal organs of vultures due to disturbances in the metabolism. Uric acid is formed due to undigested protein.
  • Neck drooping: Several weeks before collapsing, vultures exhibit neck drooping. Neck drooping can also be due to some other diseases.

Meloxicam—An Alternative to Diclofenac

  • Meloxicam is an alternative to diclofenac. It has reduced side effects for animals and is also approved for use by human beings in many countries.
  • In 2006, the Government of India has banned the veterinary use of diclofenac. However, human forms of diclofenac are still used to treat cattle. Diclofenac is used widely because it is cheaper than meloxicam.                                                ACTION PLAN FOR VULTURE CONSERVATION

Significance of Vultures  

  1. Vultures are scavengers and thus they help in maintaining the cleanliness of environment. In the absence of scavenging by vultures, street dogs and other animals move to the carcass dumps which lead to the spread of diseases such as rabies, anthrax, etc.                          ACTION PLAN FOR VULTURE CONSERVATION
  2. Vultures eat flesh of dead animals. Without scavenging by vultures, animal’s hide and bone collectors find it difficult to work.
  3. Traditional custom of Parsee community of placing the dead bodies in the Towers of Silence for feeding of vultures has been severely affected due to the reduction in vulture population.    ACTION PLAN FOR VULTURE CONSERVATION

Protection measures for vultures are as follows:

Vulture Safe Zones:

  • A Vulture Safe Zone (VSZ) is a geographical area of at least 100 km radius made free from the presence of the drug diclofenac in animal carcasses, the major food of vultures.
  • In order to declare an area as a VSZ, there is a need of government support, awareness activities among local stakeholders and periodic monitoring through sample testing of animal carcasses to detect the presence of veterinary drugs which are toxic to vultures.            ACTION PLAN FOR VULTURE CONSERVATION
  • Vulture restaurants:
  • A vulture restaurant is a site, where carrion is deposited for endangered vultures to feed on. Carrion is the decaying dead flesh of an animal.
  • Maharashtra was the first state to start vulture restaurants.            ACTION PLAN FOR VULTURE CONSERVATION
  • Captive breeding:
  • Captive breeding is the process of breeding animals in controlled environment within well-defined settings, such as wildlife reserves, zoos and other commercial and non-commercial conservation facilities.                                          ACTION PLAN FOR VULTURE CONSERVATION


Environment & Biodiversity

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