New notification to help save vulture population
Aug 31, 2015, 06.03 AM IST

The new 450 notification, in the Gazette of India, published by the ministry of health and family welfare in July should provide a big relief to the critically endangered vulture species, as per a statement issued by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). According to the notification, the multi-dose vials of human diclofenac has been banned by the Union government which can help to increase the vulture population in India.

Diclofenac formulation for human use will be available as single dose vials of three ml only. This will prevent its misuse on cattle. The inexpensive, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug is used to treat pain and inflammation in cattle and humans but is toxic for vultures, according to studies conducted by BNHS and other organisations.

Three Gyps species of vultures in India, namely Oriental White-backed, Long-billed and Slender-billed Vulture, which were once common declined drastically, by nearly 99%, over the past two decades.

Vultures which fed on cattle carcasses that were administered diclofenac 72 hours prior to their death, died on a mass scale. Vultures suffer from renal failure and deposition of uric acid on visceral organs due to diclofenac.

The drug was banned by the Drug Controller General of India in 2006 for veterinary use after sustained efforts by BNHS and other organisations. "However, further surveys by BNHS revealed that multi-dose vials of the drug meant for humans were still being used on cattle. Till recently, multi-dose vials for humans were available in 30 ml whereas the advisable dose is three ml for humans and 10-15 ml for adult cattle, leading to misuse. Subsequently, only three companies in India had voluntarily ceased production while over 70 others ignored the requests," the statement said.

BNHS and other organisations brought the misuse to the notice of the authorities nearly four years ago and persistent advocacy eventually resulted in the notification.

We hope this positive amendment will help to save these rare species.