Toxicity of diclofenac to Gyps vultures

Gerry E Swan, Richard Cuthbert, Miguel Quevedo, Rhys E Green, Deborah J Pain, Paul Bartels, Andrew A Cunningham, Neil Duncan, Andrew A Meharg, J Lindsay Oaks, Jemima Parry-Jones, Susanne Shultz, Mark A Taggart, Gerhard Verdoorn, Kerri Wolter

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125 Citations (Scopus)


Three endemic vulture species Gyps bengalensis, Gyps indicus and Gyps tenuirostris are critically endangered following dramatic declines in South Asia resulting from exposure to diclofenac, a veterinary drug present in the livestock carcasses that they scavenge. Diclofenac is widely used globally and could present a risk to Gyps species from other regions. In this study, we test the toxicity of diclofenac to a Eurasian (Gyps fulvus) and an African (Gyps africanus) species, neither of which is threatened. A dose of 0.8 mg kg(-1) of diclofenac was highly toxic to both species, indicating that they are at least as sensitive to diclofenac as G. bengalensis, for which we estimate an LD50 of 0.1-0.2 mg kg(-1). We suggest that diclofenac is likely to be toxic to all eight Gyps species, and that G. africanus, which is phylogenetically close to G. bengalensis, would be a suitable surrogate for the safety testing of alternative drugs to diclofenac.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-82
Number of pages4
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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