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Have population declines in Egyptian Vulture and Red-headed Vulture in India slowed since the 2006 ban on veterinary diclofenac?

  • TOBY H. GALLIGAN (a1), TATSUYA AMANO (a2), VIBHU M. PRAKASH (a3), MANDAR KULKARNI (a3), ROHAN SHRINGARPURE (a3), NIKITA PRAKASH (a3), SACHIN RANADE (a3), RHYS E. GREEN (a1) and RICHARD J. CUTHBERT (a1)...

Summary

Populations of three vulture species of the genus Gyps, the Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus and Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus have declined markedly on the Indian subcontinent since the mid-1990s and all are now Critically Endangered or Endangered. Gyps vultures have been killed by the widely used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac, ingested when they feed on carcasses of domesticated ungulates treated with the drug shortly before death. However, it is not known whether Egyptian Vulture and Red-headed Vulture are also sensitive to diclofenac. Veterinary use of diclofenac was banned in India in 2006. Since then, the prevalence and concentration of diclofenac in domesticated ungulates carcasses has decreased and population declines of Gyps vultures have slowed or reversed. Here, we examine counts of Egyptian and Red-headed Vultures obtained on road transects in and near protected areas between 1992 and 2011. We found indications that the declines in both species appear to have slowed and possibly increased after the ban was introduced, though the small numbers of birds counted make this conclusion less robust than that for the Gyps species. These results suggest that both species may have been adversely impacted by diclofenac and that government bans on this drug, which are beginning to take effect, may benefit a wider range of vulture species in the Indian subcontinent than was previously thought.

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Corresponding author

*Author for correspondence; email: toby.galligan@rspb.org.uk

References

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