South Asian Vultures in Crisis: Environmental Contamination with a Pharmaceutical

  • J. Lindsay Oaks
  • Richard T. Watson
Part of the Emerging Topics in Ecotoxicology book series (ETEP, volume 3)


In the late 1990s an unprecedented decline in the population of two of the world’s most abundant raptors, the Oriental White-backed vulture (Gyps bengalensis) and the Long-billed vulture (Gyps indicus), was noticed in India. By the early 2000s, similar catastrophic declines followed in neighboring Pakistan. Ecological and forensic studies ultimately found that a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical, diclofenac, was responsible. Diclofenac, long used in human medicine, had found its way into the veterinary market as a safe, inexpensive, and very popular drug for livestock in Southern Asia. Unfortunately, diclofenac residues caused kidney failure in Gyps vultures that fed on treated carcasses. And the loss of breeding adult vultures had a profound impact on the population, leading to declines on the order of 30% per year. In 2004, a series of meetings were held with government officials to inform them of this discovery. The extensive lobbying efforts that followed successfully led in 2006 to a ban on the manufacture of veterinary diclofenac in India, Pakistan, and Nepal. Sadly, in 2010, diclofenac still appears to be readily available and widely used in veterinary medicine, leaving the fate of wild Gyps vultures in doubt.


Breeding Season Infectious Bronchitis Virus Bird Conservation Griffon Vulture Bombay Natural History Society 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, College of Veterinary MedicineWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA
  2. 2.The Peregrine FundBoiseUSA

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