Diclofenac and Death
This century did not start very well for the Indian vultures, some species saw a catastrophic decline by nearly 99% in only seven years (2000-2007).
The cause for this dramatic drop is the antiinflammatory substance diclofenac (the Active ingrideient in Voltaren for example) which destroys the vulture’s renal function. Live stock is given the drug in order to work harder and longer in their later part of life as it reliefs pain in joints and muscles. When the vultures then eat flesh from the carcasses they get ill (yes, there’s a lot of dead animals lying around in India…).
The dead creatures are spreading diseases and (half) domestic dogs has now taken over a big part of the vultures role in stripping the carcasses.
Through a ban of Diclofenac in 2005 and breeding programmes the numbers of vultures are growing but extremely slow (vultures live long and breed slowly). 2012 was the first year an increase could be seen for the first time in over 20 years.