Vultures may not be the most pleasant birds to contemplate, given their not so pleasant appearance and association with death, but they serve a vital role in an Eco - system by eating dead flesh.
Throughout India, vulture populations have plummeted to less than one percent of what they were a few decades ago, leading to an epidemic of uneaten cattle carcasses and spawning an increase in the number of rats, feral dogs and human rabies cases from dog bites.
But they may be some hope for these much maligned birds: Their decline had slowed, stopped or even reversed in some areas of the Indian Subcontinent, according to a paper published on February 7th in the journal – Science.
The birds declined largely because ranchers started giving their cattle an anti inflammatory drug called diclofenac that the birds ingested when they ate the dead cattle, paper author and Cambridge researcher Andrew Balmford said. In 2006, following revelations that diclofenac was deadly to the birds, the Government of India, Pakistan and Nepal banned the use of the drug for cattle.
Bangladesh followed in 2010, and in May 2012 the four governments reached an ‘unprecedented political agreement’ to prevent unintentional poisoning of the vultures from veterinary drugs, Balmford told OurAmazingPlanet.
Many ranchers have adopted an alternative drug that is safe to vultures, Balmford said, but the increase of other drugs in concerning, especially one that’s close in structure to diclofenac, Balmford said. Restrictions on these drugs are needed, he added.
Nevertheless, vulture numbers have leveled off in many areas, and increase elsewhere.
Courtesy:- Times Of India ( Monday 11th, February, 2013)