Promise of drug-free dinners for India's vultures
Ban of veterinary drug should protect carion-eating birds.
India has announced it will ban diclofenac, a veterinary drug that has caused South Asian vulture numbers to crash by more than 95% over the past 15 years (see ' Switching vet drug could save vultures'). The birds are poisoned when they eat carcasses of treated cattle.
Indian officials have ordered drug companies to stop making and marketing the widely used anti-inflammatory within three months. Conservationists had been lobbying for diclofenac to be replaced by an alternative drug, meloxicam, that does not poison carrion-eating birds.
Bird-protection groups are still waiting for confirmation that the ban will cover the import of diclofenac from outside India and hope that neighbouring Pakistan and Nepal will follow India's lead.
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- Oaks J.L, et al. Nature , 427. 630 - 633 (2004).