Diclofenac moves to Africa

Just when you thought the spectre of vulture deaths had taken a breather, here's more shocking news. It's not gone away, just shifted base. A bit of background: Diclofenac, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used in the veterinary treatment of livestock, has been found to cause gout and renal failure in vultures that ingest it while feeding on the corpses and remains of livestock. In Asia, particularly India, Diclofenac was responsible for decimating vultures of the Gyps genus. Among the affected species include the White-backed, Slender-billed and Griffon vultures. BirdLife reports: "In India, where Diclofenac was in widespread veterinary use, three Gyps species, formerly of Least Concern, have been pushed to Critically Endangered status, losing over 99 percent of their populations in just over a decade." In 2006, governments in India, Nepal and Pakistan banned the manufacture and sale of Diclofenac. However, BirdLife has observed that the veterinary drug is on sale in Africa. This puts other vulture species on the extinction radar: Cape vulture (Gyps coprotheres), Rueppell's Griffon Vulture (Gyps rueppellii), White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) and Griffon vulture Gyps fulvus. Further, BirdLife adds that the threat extends to other vulture species and birds of prey, including owls and raptors, as well as cranes and storks. "Gyps vultures are very wide ranging, and exposure to Diclofenac in a single carcass in any one of their range states could prove fatal to whole populations, threatening the more common species as well as the already rare ones," BirdLife said. More