May 1, 2008

The Way of the Dodo

Several species of Asian vulture are experiencing a faster rate of decline in their population than even the dodo (that's not a distinction any species wants).

The white-backed vulture of Indai (see below) is down to one thousandth of its population of 1992 (only 16 years). Conservationists point to the usage of anti-inflamatory drugs (diclofenac) given to livestock (upon whose carcasses these birds dine), which induces kidney failure in the birds.

Photo source:

The only way to preserve this bird is to stop the use of diclofenac in livestock and to expand captive breeding programs (which have proven successful). Otherwise, we're looking at extinction in about a decade of three Asian vulture species.

Thanks for the article, Ida.


Anonymous said...

It's definitely a serious disruption in the food chain over there, with the result being more rats, more wild dogs, and more disease.

Anonymous said...

Slight typo there, but I don't know what you meant. It should either be the 'kiwi of New Zealand' or the 'dodo of Mauritius.' Actually, since the dodo is extinct, you probably want the former unless the Asian vulture now has a negative population.

Unknown said...

Wow, do you know how hard it is to poison a vulture? They have the toughest digestive systems, so anything short of arsenic or like that usually bounces off (or gets excreted/digested).

Arachnophile said...

Heavan help us when the carrion eaters start to fade. :(

Anonymous said...

The decrease in vultures is actually impacting one human religion as well. Zoroastrians practice "sky burials," and there are less and less vultures in India to help the corpses leave their mortal remains behind. Evidently this is a serious, serious problem for their beliefs.

hydrolagus said...

One of the teh sux things about this is that when vultures consume carcasses of cows that died of anthrax or other diseases, the pathogens are removed by the time material comes out the other end. Not so with dogs and rats--those just transport the germs to wherever they decide to defecate.