Moving out of Diclofenac shadow: MP saw increase in Vulture Numbers

Pashu Sandesh, 15th January 2019

The endangered population of Vulture is on the rise in Madhya Pradesh. The figures released by the Forest Department shows a count of 7906 which in 2017 was around 7000. Forest Department had pressed more than 7000 workers who were also supported by the members of local NGOs involved in Wild conservation. The counting was done in the Bhopal, Ujjain and Chatarpur forest circles. Rise in the population of this endangered bird has given much needed boost to the efforts of the Forest Department of MP who are involved in the conservation of this exclusive birds.

The counting of the Vultures was undertaken between 6am to 8am as between this period the birds remain inactive and found sitting near their nest which makes the sighting and counting easy. As only birds who were found sitting have been counted, the Forest Department is projecting that the count could be much more. 

Diclofenac Scare:

The Indian vulture (Gyps indicus) is an Old World vulture native to India, Pakistan and Nepal. It has been listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2002, as the population severely declined. Indian vultures died of renal failure caused by diclofenac poisoning. Diclofenac is a pain killer drug.The drug is believed to be swallowed by vultures with the flesh of dead cattle who were given diclofenac in the last days of life to ease out joint pain thus making them work longer. Diclofenac causes kidney failure in several species of vultures.

In March 2006 the Government of India announced a ban on the veterinary use of diclofenac.On the 25th of October 2017, the High Court of Tamil Nadu ratified the ban on multi-dose vials of Diclofenac, siding with the conservationists of SAVE (Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction, a confederation of conservation groups) against the pledge of two powerful pharmaceutical companies. Even though the sale of large vials of Diclofenac for treating cattle was officially banned in India in 2006, pharmaceutical companies bypassed the veto by selling multi-dose 30 ml vials supposedly for human treatment. After years of dispute in court, where the conservationists had to prove that these vials were far too large for human use and those vials were therefore just an illegitimate way of keeping Diclofenac available for farmers, the High Court finally prohibited the commercialisation of the 30 ml vials in 2015, limiting the volume to 3 ml per vial.