BirdLife: The Magazine September 2017 - Page 22

GOING SOUTH CAPTIVE-REARED CRITICALLY ENDANGERED VULTURES SOON TO BE RELEASED IN NEPAL ASIA South Asian vultures famously suffered dev- astating population declines in recent decades (e.g. 99.9% of White-rumped Vultures Gyps bengalensis were wiped out between 1992 and 2007) due to the use of diclofenac, an anti-in- flammatory drug given to reduce pain in live- stock, but deadly to vultures that subsequently feed on their carcasses. A ban of veterinary diclofenac in India, Nepal and Pakistan in 2006 and Bangladesh in 2010 has allowed vulture populations to stabilise and possibly start to recover in some areas. However, five of South Asia’s nine vulture species remain Endangered or Critically Endangered; the misuse of human diclofenac to treat livestock, as well as the use of other vulture-toxic veterinary drugs, contin- ues to threaten some South Asian vulture pop- ulations with extinction. BirdLife Partners are changing that, through a combination of advo- cacy, legislation and education. “WE STARTED BY BUYING PHARMACISTS OUT OF LARGE BOTTLES. NOW THE DISTRICT IS COMPLETELY DICLOFENAC-FREE” Captive-reared White- rumped Vulture set into pre-release aviary. Photo Bird Conservation Nepal 1 Meanwhile, White-rumped Vultures have been kept in captivity as an insurance popula- tion since 2008. Now, with a safer landscape to roam in, BCN and RSPB are gearing up for the first ever release of captive vultures in South Asia. Six captive-reared vultures fitted with sat- ellite transmitters are currently exercising their wings in a pre-release aviary near Chitwan National Park, socialising through the wire with wild vultures that are fed at one of the pro- gramme’s Vulture Safe Feeding Sites (see map). Later this year, the door will be left open in what will be a huge milestone for the species’ recov- ery in Nepal. “We will track the captive-reared vultures, allow- ing us to learn more and respond to any threats”, said Toby Galligan, Senior Conservation Sci- entist, RSPB Centre for Conservation Science. “Over the next three years, we will deploy more satellite transmitters on wild vultures and captive vultures that are to be released.” Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN), with the sup- port of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), have been working hard to rid Nepal of diclofenac. “We started by going around shops in Nawalparasi district, buying pharmacists out of large bottles of diclofenac, whilst offering the safe alternative (meloxicam) and raising awareness of the vulture declines”, said Krishna Bhusal, Vulture Conservation Pro- gramme Manager, BCN. “Now this district is completely diclofenac-free.” District by district, from pharmacists’ distributors to farmer’s son, the campaign is on-going, but nearly complete. The aim: a huge multi-district Vulture Safe Zone. KEEP CALM AND CARRION CAMPAIGNING EUROPE AIMING FOR A VULTURE-SAFE NEPAL 58 districts that have pledged to be diclofenac-free, together forming a potential Vulture Safe Zone that spans most of the country. 17 districts not currently engaged, but 5 of these will be by the end of 2017 and the remaining 12 are the focus of a new project starting in 2018. Six existing Vulture Safe Feeding Sites. Also the release site. The combined home range in the past six months of six wild White-rumped Vultures fitted with satellite transmitters at the release site. This provides a guide to where the majority of the released vultures will range. 22 BANVET DICLO FENAC BIRDLIFE • SEPTEMBER 2017 Given what we know about the use of diclofenac and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in Asia, it seems incredible that in 2014 diclofenac was authorised for veterinary use in Europe, (quickly becoming available commercially in Ita ǒB7vW&RRbWW&^( 2gVGW&W0ƗfR66vǒ&V6VB7GVGVR#r'FR76֖7G'bw&7VGW&RBf6W"ЦW2fBBVf&VB6w2FP&W6V6RbF6fV26F֖FVB6&676W0vFFR&V6bvBgVGW&W2FR7GVGfV@b#6&676W26FrF6fV2bF06FV6RR2G6FV2F6FRF@F2vVB&RVVvFgVGW&W2W"Ц2fW"2W"V"7F6fV2&W6V6RW7BRbƗfW7F66&676W2&FVBfVG2v2VVvFvRWBgVGW&RVF2FRF7V&6FVBFR76VF6Ɩ6V6Pf"F6fV22Wf"&WfWrBFRV@bF2V"6W"FW7B6v&fW@F6fV22FFR&&VFP'VB&Vf&RWW&^( 2&VfVBw&ffgVGW&W0w2gVgW27W'&VFǒV7B66W&@&VGF&VFVVBgVGW&W2vFR6Rv2FR6R6vFR'VVB4UDT$U"#r( "$$DĔdPw&ffgVGW&Pw2gVgW22F&VFVV@'F6fV2F&VW&6DRE%Tr0$TETDU$pDRdB4U"4t2DDP$$TDP%TB$Td$RtP5TddU"$UTB`DR45$42T4R4pU"5U%@FRffVFrG'VrF6fV2F6&2vW'6%5 &RFVRfR6vVBFR6Чv( 2WFFBfW"#&v6F2fPW&W76VB7W'B7&72WW&RVvR4T&&DƖfR76'FW"2ƖVB&W2Ч7W&RF&ƖVBBFR76VF6W2@VF&GV7G2vV7T2&WVW7FrFWǒ&V6WF'&6RFB66FW'266VFf2&wVVG2B&V6VG2&pfWFW&'F6fV2vRvVWW6rVF@2&VB6V6RvF&fWFF6fV26ЧF6vFRWFFB6rW"7W'B( 72FRw&VB&fVvRbfrFR&W7@VF2bgVGW&W2v62vFW6G2`VR6RFW"6VG'f"GW&RFW&6( 62V6&2FVVf&VFvfW&Ц6Rff6W"4T&&DƖfR( gVGW&W2&R6w&V@ƖW2bƗfW7F6VWW'2B6fRFW6G2`WW&2'fFrFRVVBf"6V7FG&2Ч'FFB'W&rb6&676W3B&6W&VǒFV&vRFR&fG2b&6WWF66T2W7B7BFRvVW&FW&W7@BFVfVBFRGW&W&FvRbFRv&@b66W'fF2f7W6VBF2FV66( Т&fWBF6fV26v2VB'4T&&DƖfR&&DƖfR75T&&DƖfR'GVv’gVGW&R66W'fFfVFFutb7b&&DƖfRFW&Fwwr&fWFF6fV26У#