A cautionary tale: Diclofenac and its profound impact on vultures

N. L. Richards, M. Gilbert, M. Taggart, V. Naidoo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Citations (Scopus)


In the late 1990s, populations of three species of Gyps vultures, once considered the most abundant large raptors on earth, underwent a precipitous decline on the Asian subcontinent. After less than a decade, they had virtually been extinguished. Here, we detail the numerous lines of investigation that were urgently but scrupulously undertaken to establish the nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug diclofenac, via ingestion of residues in livestock carcasses, as the cause of the mortality. We outline the safety testing process to find the sole vulture-safe alternative NSAID to date, consider others flagged or confirmed as unsafe, and discuss governmental actions taken and regulations enacted to protect Asian Gyps vultures. We also ponder lessons learned throughout, identify other potentially vulnerable scavenging species and highlight where the strong warnings issued following the “Asian Vulture Crisis” are still not being heeded.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of the Anthropocene
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9780128096659
ISBN (Print)9780128135761
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Aceclofenac
  • Ban
  • Carprofen
  • Diclofenac
  • Extinction
  • Flunixin
  • Gyps
  • Ketoprofen
  • Livestock
  • Meloxicam
  • Necropsy
  • Nephrotoxicant
  • Phenylbutazone
  • Veterinary agent
  • Visceral gout
  • Vulture


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