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 Listening in: Acoustic monitoring devices detect illegal hunting and logging
14.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.

nachricht How fires are changing the tundra’s face
12.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.

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: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests

14.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

New type of smart windows use liquid to switch from clear to reflective

14.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

BigH1 -- The key histone for male fertility

14.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>