India’s Punjab state is considering widening a ban on drugs that are indirectly resulting in deaths of vultures.
The state, which has already banned the veterinary painkiller diclofenac, is considering extending that to aceclofenac, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug used for the relief of pain and inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis, The Tribune newspaper’s Aman Sood reports.
The drug used to treat cattle is found to cause the death of vultures when they scavenge on carcass of animals that die within 72 hours of being administered the medicine.
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The Punjab State Board for Wildlife is scheduled to take up the issue in its meeting this week.
The Indian subcontinent lost 95 percent of its vultures in just 15 years. Of the eight species of vultures found in India, three – the oriental white-backed, long-billed vulture and slender-billed vulture – are listed as being threatened with obliteration after rapid population fades began in the 1990s.
The rapid decline in vulture populations was first reported in the late 1990s by Dr.Vibhu Prakash of the Bombay Natural History Society. Vulture populations had been shrinking gradually from loss of habitat and disease throughout Asia, but what occurred in India and Pakistan was different. The decline was rapid and severe and posed a problem in a part of the world that relied frequently on the ubiquitous vultures for the efficient disposal of deceased livestock.
An investigation, which began in 2000, was prompted by reports of a 95 percent drop in the number of Asian white-backed vultures (Gyps bengalensis), Indian vultures (Gyps indicus) and slender-billed vultures (Gyps tenuirostris). All three are listed as critically endangered by the World Conservation Union, the international environmental agency based in Switzerland.
A need to look systematically on the usage of pharmaceuticals for veterinary purposes is required which would lead to the trace of chemicals from human use and their outcomes on birds and animals.
“The board is requested to recommend the issue of advisory to the Drug Controller General of India to ban diclofenac,” stated Punjab Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) chief.