Gyps vulture populations across the Indian subcontinent are declining rapidly and evidence indicates that veterinary use of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) diclofenac is the major cause. Exposure of vultures to diclofenac is likely to arise from the consumption of livestock carcasses that have been treated shortly before death, however, detailed information regarding the prevalence and residual levels of diclofenac in carcasses available to vultures in India remains unreported. Here, we present data on diclofenac residues in 1848 liver samples taken from carcasses of dead livestock sampled at 67 sites in 12 states within India, between May 2004 and July 2005. Diclofenac residues were detected in carcasses in all states except Orisa, where only one site was sampled. The overall prevalence of detectable diclofenac (>10 microg kg(-1)) across all states was 10.1% and varied significantly among states, with up to 22.3% prevalence determined in Bihar. The geometric mean concentration of diclofenac found in samples in which the drug was detected was 352 microg kg(-1). The prevalence of carcasses containing diclofenac is similar to that previously proposed to be required to have caused the observed Gyps vulture declines in India. On the 11th of May 2006, the Drug Controller General (India) ordered the withdrawal of all licenses granted for the manufacture of diclofenac for veterinary use within India. However, if Gyps vultures are to be protected, potentially substantial existing stocks now need to be quickly and effectively removed from the Indian veterinary market.
Taggart, M. A., Senacha, K. R., Green, R. E., Jhala, Y. V., Raghavan, B., Rahmani, A. R., Cuthbert, R., Pain, D. J., & Meharg, A. A. (2007). Diclofenac residues in carcasses of domestic ungulates available to vultures in India. Environment International, 33(6), 759-65. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2007.02.010