|Two oriental white-backed vultures and a slender-billed vulture|
A recent survey by conservationists has shown that a banned livestock drug that has been pushing India's vultures to the brink of extinction is still being sold. Known as diclofenac, this drug was banned because it led to population downfalls in three species of vultures in southern Asia. Most birds died as a result of kidney failure after feeding on carcasses of animals treated with this drug. A study led by Richard Cuthbert, principal conservation scientist for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), found that more than one-third of pharmacies are still selling the drug. In addition to being used in livestock, the study also found that diclofenac was being used to treat people. RSPB also said that a research conducted to examine the effectiveness the drug's banning in 2006 indicated that the oriental white-backed, long-billed, and slender-billed vultures are still at risk. According to statistics, numbers of white-backed vultures plunged by 99.9 % since 1992 from millions to 11,000, while two other species have fallen to 97 %. However, there have been some good news for vultures, in which the research found that there was an increase in another drug called meloxicam. Found in 70 % of all pharmacies in India, it has similar treatment properties for cattle. In addition to that, captive breeding centers were set up by the Bombay Natural History Society with support from RSPB and the SAVE campaign leading to success so far. A recent report showed that eighteen birds were successfully reared this year, which is almost double the number last year.
|Diclofenac; the major contributor to the decline in India's vulture population|
This article clearly indicates that vultures in India are still under the threat of extinction. Despite the breeding programs and with the manufacturing and selling of a harmless drug, diclofenac is still being illegally made and sold. A research published in the journal Oryx found that it was still being illegally manufactured since the ban in India, Nepal, and Pakistan. I personally believe that this should call for some drastic action, in which there should be an establishment of some police squads specializing in raiding labs suspected of manufacturing the drug. In addition to that, there should also be a community outreach program to educate people about the ecological importance of vultures and even encourage the public to collaborate with authorities in putting the end to manufacturing of diclofenac.
|Vultures have played a major role in India's culture; this scene from the Ramayana shows Jatayu losing his wings when trying to save Rama's wife Sita from the main antagonist Ravana|
In India, vultures have been an integral part of the culture for generations. The epic Ramayana featured two demi-gods in the form of vultures. They were brothers Jatayu and Sampati, and each were associated with stories of courage and self-sacrifice. For example, the two used to compete as to who could fly higher. And in one instance, Jatayu flew so high that he was about to get smeared by the sun. In response, his brother saved him by using his wings to create a shield against the flames. Though Jatayu was saved, Sampati was bad injured and ended up wingless for the rest of his life. But perhaps the most intriguing story revolved around Jatayu when he tried to save Lord Rama's wife Sita from the demonic king Ravana. When Sita was being abducted by Ravana, Jatayu flew to her rescue but ended up wingless and mortally wounded. Thankfully before his death, he was able to provide Rama and his brother Lakshmana in which direction Sita was being taken. The Parsi community relies on vultures during their sky burials, in which they would place the corpses on top of the Tower of Silence known as Dakhma letting the birds dispose of the dead leaving nothing but bones which would be collected in an ossuary pit at the center. This idea tells that the decline in vulture population has deeply impacted not only the environment, but the culture itself. This is why it is crucial to save them from the brink of extinction.
View article here