Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/01/11/vulture_threat/

Vultures under threat worldwide

Painkiller abuse to blame

By Lester Haines

Posted in Science, 11th January 2006 12:33 GMT

Vultures worldwide are under threat from a commonly used livestock painkiller which destroys their kidneys, the BBC reports.

Our feathered friends are being wiped out in India as a result of eating carrion contaminated with Diclofenac - a cheap inflammation treatment for cattle. A report by the British Royal Society for the Protection of Birds claims that, whereas the subcontinent once enjoyed large flocks of oriental white-backed vultures, the birds have been driven to the point of extinction in a matter of years.

This is bad, because the oriental white-backed used to be the commonest large bird of prey anywhere. The report's lead researcher, Deborah Pain, says she has "never seen such a rapid decline of any species". Other species, too, are under threat - particularly the Eurasian vulture, since juveniles "migrate into northern India, where dead cattle are left unburied".

The solution? Find a safe alternative to Diclofenac before the drug does for vultures around the world. ®