What is causing decline in vulture population?
The use of fatal drugs to treat livestock has pulled down the population of endangered white-backed and long-billed vultures by over 90 percent in Pakistan, the WWF-Pakistan said on Tuesday. The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs), which the farmers use to treat their livestock includes diclofenac sodium, aceclofenac and keoprofen that the WWF-Pakistan has termed ‘fatal’ for the vultures across the country.
“The use of NSAIDs in livestock has resulted in more than 90 percent decline in white-backed and long-billed vulture population in Pakistan,” Director Species, WWF-Pakistan Dr Uzma Khan said.
She voiced concerns over the unabated use of harmful veterinary drugs in the country and called upon the authorities to place effective conservation measures for protection of the critically endangered vulture species. Despite a ban, the use of diclofenac sodium continues as a veterinary medicine, she said.
According to a WWF-Pakistan’s study, the drought-stricken Tharparker shelters and provides nesting to the critically endangered gyps and long-billed vultures to breed on trees at Karoonjhar Hills in Sindh. A Vulture Safe Zone (VSZ) was set up in Nagarparkar, Sindh in 2012, which has developed into a primary nesting area and habitat for the local communities depending on livestock.
“The WWF-Pakistan believes that the efforts for establishment of a legally notified protected area in the core area of Vulture Safe Zone [VSZ], building capacity of the local community to reduce livestock losses, lobbying for the ban of Ketoprofen and Aceclofenac and targeted awareness campaign, will allow for the conservation of vulture population,” it said.
Poor veterinary care and inadequate knowledge have led to the losses of livestock and the uncontrolled use of harmful NSAIDs yields serious implications to the diminishing vultures’ population, it said, adding the endangered species died mainly from kidney failures.
With a view to create awareness among the locals, the WWF-Pakistan under its VSZ project has lately organised a three-day basic veterinary training on livestock management in Nagarparkar, Tharparkar district. “WWF-Pakistan is taking steps to create awareness among local communities to discontinue the use of such harmful drugs,” Dr Uzma Khan said.
The resource persons from the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) Lahore, Dr Umer Zafar and Arif Rizwan briefed the participants selected within the local community on animal and poultry diseases, vaccination, de-worming, common drugs used in treatments, nutritional deficiencies and on other better animal husbandry practices.