The milk of human blindness

Hard to imagine that the near extinction of three species of Gyps vultures has to do with something mammalian. Milk. Medicine to mammals, toxin to vultures, the antibiotic drug Diclofenac was widely administered to livestock. When vultures fed on animal carcasses as they have been doing for millennia, traces of the drug crept into their digestive systems and, over time, caused renal failure, slowly wiping out whole populations of the raptors. Finally in 2006, Diclofenac was banned, perhaps 15 years too late. Now, the worrying part is that Diclofenac has moved to Africa, where it poses a huge threat to vultures and other raptors of that continent. Just as with the gharial crisis that is unfolding in the Chambal River Sanctuary, theories abounded but the solution came late. Conservationists are now waiting with bated breath - some fear the damage is too deep; others are hopeful that the vultures will make a comeback. Tehelka has a good opinion piece on the subject by conservationist Neeta Shah.