Wildlife groups have launched a Europe-wide campaign to outlaw a newly approved veterinary drug that has caused the deaths of tens of millions of vultures in Asia. They say that the decision to allow diclofenac to be used in Spain and Italy not only threatens to wipe out Europe’s vultures but could harm other related species, including the golden eagle and the Spanish imperial eagle, one of the world’s rarest raptors.
Diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory agent and painkiller, was introduced around the end of the 20th century in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh to treat sick cattle. But when the cattle’s carcasses were eaten by vultures, the birds contracted a fatal kidney condition. Within a few years, vulture numbers had declined by a staggering 99.9% across south Asia. The worst-affected species included long-billed, slender-billed and oriental white-backed vultures. Dead cattle were left to rot without vultures to consume their flesh. Packs of feral dogs grew to fill the ecological gap. The risk of rabies also rose, said health experts. Now diclofenac has been approved for use in Italy and Spain.”
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Author: Robin McKie
Source: The Guardian