India's vanishing birds - India Today


T At a shelter run by the NGO Wildlife SOS in Garhi Harsaru, a hamlet on the outskirts of Gurugram, an Egyptian vulture awaits treatment for a fractured wing and pneumonia. A solemn-looking bird to begin with, which goes by the formal name of Neophron percnopterus ginginianus (the last derived from Gingee, a town in Tamil Nadu), the forlorn, yellow-billed creature in the cage is weighed by a burden even heavier—for, on his recovery depends the survival of the rest of its vulture brethren. The White-rumped vulture, Indian vulture and the Red-headed vulture have suffered long-term declines of 98 per cent, 95 per cent and 91 per cent, respectively. The culprit has been long known—the anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac, used commonly to treat livestock for a range of ailments. The consequences, however, prove fatal for the birds, who succumb to renal failure a day or two after feeding on cattle carcasses.


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