In early 2004, the painkiller Diclofenac was identified as the cause by a US-led team in the deaths of thousands of Asian vulture species such as The long-billed vulture (Gyps indicus) and the slender-billed vulture (Gyps tenuirostris). The Oriental white-backed vultures (Gyps bengalensis) were once the most common large bird of prey anywhere in the world!
Diclofenac is extremely cheap to buy, it has been widely used in South Asia to treat cattle for conditions like lameness, or mastitis - inflammation of the udder.
The trouble was that vultures were feeding off carcasses of dead, treated animals, and the drug was destroying their kidneys.
Is the writing on the wall for the Griffon Vulture?
NSAID (Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drug) called diclofenac.
I have searched for more information on the use and availability of this drug in Spain and have found not much clear information about any ban for its use with livestock. As far as I am aware, it is a legal drug still offered for sale by pharmaceutical companies here in Europe and you can certainly buy it online or over the counter here in Spain for human use.
India successfully imposed a livestock ban for its use in 2006. It idifficult to account for any drugs perviously purchased and what stocks were held by both vets and farmers prior to this date. The logistics involved with any enforcement would be financially problematic for authorities both in India and here in Spain but any pre-emptive ban on diclofenac, for the protection of our vulture species would be a good demonstration of southern EU country member's comittment to conservation and our natural environment.
Meloxicam is being recommended with guidelines to vets as an alternative to Diclofenac
Griffon Vultures use very limited amounts of energy by gliding vast distances, often hundreds of kilometers with just one or two flaps, scouring the countryside for carcasses
Will sights like this be a thing of the past in Europe?
A griffon Vulture feed
Soaring high above Bolonia beach and the Roman ruins of Baelo Claudia.
I'd like to wish you all a healthy and happy New Year and easy slide into 2011!
All the best and thanks for keeping up with the Finnsticks blog, Stephen