Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ray of Hope for Vultures Facing Extinction

31.01.2006


Today saw a glimmer of hope for the three species of Asian vulture threatened with extinction.



Oriental white-backed, long-billed, and slender-billed vultures in South Asia have suffered one of the most rapid and widespread population declines of any bird species, declining by more than 97% over the last 10-15 years.

These declines were caused by the widespread veterinary use of the drug diclofenac for the treatment of sick domestic livestock throughout the Indian subcontinent. Diclofenac kills vultures that feed on the bodies of livestock that have been given the drug shortly before death.


To combat diclofenac’s devastating effects on vulture populations, the Indian government announced, in March 2005, its intention to phase out the use of the drug. However, progress has been hampered by the lack of an alternative drug that is known to be safe for vultures yet effective for treating livestock.

In a new report published in the open access journal PLoS Biology, a team of scientists from South Africa, Namibia, India, and the UK concluded that such an alternative has now been found.

The team, led by Gerry Swan of the University of Pretoria, found that the drug meloxicam was safe to vultures at the likely range of levels they would be exposed to in the wild. Meloxicam, which is similar to diclofenac in its effectiveness for treating livestock, has recently become available for veterinary use in India and could easily be used in place of diclofenac.

“This research is an excellent example of international collaboration in response to an urgent conservation problem,” Said Dr Debbie Pain, Head of International Research at the RSPB and a co-author of the paper.

Fellow-author Dr Rhys Green, Principal Research Biologist at the RSPB and a scientist at Cambridge University, said: “Dr Lindsay Oaks discovered that diclofenac is the cause of the vulture declines just two years ago, so having found a practical solution so quickly is encouraging. Even so, vulture populations are declining so fast that it could still be too late to save them unless action is taken immediately.”

Publication of these results is very timely because the government of India today convened a two-day international meeting to decide how to save the endangered vultures. Removal of diclofenac from their food supply is a vital step, so the identification of an alternative drug may have come just in time.

Dr Asad Rahmani, Director of the Bombay Natural History Society said: “It is essential that the government of India acts quickly to make good use of this new information. Diclofenac must be replaced by meloxicam as soon as possible and there are many things that government can do to speed this up.”

The vulture declines have had profound ecological and social consequences. Vultures play a vital role in environmental health by disposing of carcasses and reducing the risk of disease.

The two key steps necessary to save vultures from extinction are removal of diclofenac from their food chain, and the establishment of conservation centres for captive breeding as a stop-gap measure until that is achieved.

“It is essential that the environment is free of diclofenac before vultures from conservation breeding centres can be released into the wild,” said RSPB Research Biologist Dr Richard Cuthbert, who coordinated the new research. “In view of these findings, there is now no reason for governments to delay in banning the veterinary use of diclofenac.”

Paul Ocampo | alfa
Further information:
http://www.plosbiology.org
http://www.plos.org

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Global threat to primates concerns us all
19.01.2017 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung

nachricht Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>