Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Tuesday, March 9, 2021

New drug for cattle poses a serious threat to vultures







Introduction of new drugs for cattle in the country is causing serious concern among vulture conservationists. Among the drugs, flunixin is considered one of the most dangerous and activists have urged the Tamil Nadu animal husbandry authorities to stop its use, saying it poses a big threat to the highly endangered vulture population.




Coimbatore-based conservationist S Bharathi Dasan of Arulagam said use of just 1% of the drug in veterinary dispensaries will negatively impact the small population of the forest scavengers that consume cattle carcasses, among others. He had appealed to the animal husbandry department to stop purchasing the new drug. The state had earlier taken a pioneering step by stopping the purchase of ketoprofen, another drug that posed a threat to vultures. After a lot of research and appeal from conservationists, use of dyclofenac, an antiinflammatory drug, was reduced to a great extent, he said.





Vibu Prakash of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) said across the country, the vulture population is gradually stabilising. Two decades ago, the population of these forest scavengers was declining fast due to the use of diclofenac. Moreover, these birds are slow breeders and hence their population is not growing fast, he said.





On the use of drugs that pose a threat to the survival of these birds, Vibu Prakash said in a majority of states, these drugs are not purchased and administered according to the direction of veterinarians. In many rural areas, cattle owners themselves administer large doses of such drugs to their animals. This is mainly due to lack of awareness. The animal husbandry department should educate them on using such harmful drugs, he said.




The BNHS operates a vulture conservation and breeding centre in Pinjore, Haryana, headed by Vibu Prakash. According to him, a similar centre has to be established in the south. A sum of ₹2 crore will be required to create the infrastructure and another ₹1 crore to maintain 25 breeding pairs of vultures, he said.





The vulture conservation and breeding centres are aimed at conserving their population and releasing them in the wild when they mature. In the Pinjore centre, researchers ensure that only minimal human interaction is permitted. This is being done to avoid human influence on vultures, he said.





Source: The Times of India, 07 September 2019, Chennai.