Are conservation actions reducing the threat to India's vulture populations?

Richard J. Cuthbert, Vibhu Prakash, Mohini Saini, Suchitra Upreti, Devendra Swarup, Asit Das, Rhys E. Green, Mark Taggart

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Veterinary use of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, diclofenac is responsible for the population col- lapse of resident vulture species in India. Conservation efforts, including a ban on veterinary diclofenac and the identification of a vulture-safe alternative (meloxi-cam), were introduced in 2006 in order to address the threat. Sampling of domesticated ungulate carcasses available to vultures in India was undertaken in three surveys prior to, around the time of, and 1–2 years after the ban in order to quantify the prevalence of diclofenac and meloxicam residues. A total of 1445, 1488 and 1251 liver tissue samples were collected from nine states and analysed with a validated LC-ESI/MS
methodology. Overall diclofen ac prevalence levels de-clined by almost a half over the three surveys, and there was an increase in meloxicam prevalence between the second and third surveys, although some states revealed little change. These surveys indicate that two of the key conservation actions to counter the threat faced by vultures – banning veterinary diclofenac and promoting meloxicam as a safe alternative – are beginning to take effect. However, because only a small proportion of diclofenac-contaminated carcasses is
sufficient to cause vulture population declines, further efforts are needed to eliminate diclofenac from the food supply of India’s vultures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1480-1484
Number of pages4
JournalCurrent Science-India
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2011


  • Carcass
  • conservation actions
  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • vultures


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