The Indian subcontinent is reaping the rewards of banning the use of Diclofenac as pain killers among cattle as the number of vultures dying due to poisoning has significantly come down.
The use of the pain killer among cattle dying had poisoned their carcasses which in turn proved to be fatal for the vulture population in the subcontinent. The population of Oriental white-backed vulture was almost decimated, falling by 99.9 percent while long-billed vulture and slender-billed vulture populations fell by 97 percent.
The drug was banned for veterinary use in India, Nepal and Pakistan in 2006 and a recent study has found that the number of vulture deaths due to poisoning has fallen by 60 percent, though the decline in vulture population continues at an annual rate of 18 percent.
The use of Diclofenac in cattle has fallen by 40 percent between 2007 and 2008 and in cases where in the pain killer has been used, the concentration of the drug in the carcasses is significantly lower.
However lead researcher Professor Rhys Green said that use of Diclofenac should be completely stopped if the vulture population is to bounce back in the near future. "Diclofenac use must be virtually eliminated, and not just halved, if vulture populations are to recover", he said, adding that another pain killer, meloxicam, works as effectively as Diclofenac without any danger to the vultures.