March 2014: The drug responsible for wiping out vulture populations in India, Pakistan and Nepal is now available in Europe and could bring with it a repeat of this ecological disaster warn Birdlife International.
Diclofenac is a powerful anti-inflammatory drug that has now been authorised for use on domestic animals in Italy, and in Spain where 80 per cent of European vultures live.
This is in despite of the drug being proved to kill vultures when used throughout India, Pakistan and Nepal to treat cattle in the 1990s. For when the animals died, Diclofenac can remain in the body for up to ten years and is absorbed by the vultures feasting on the carcase, causing their almost immediate death.
Studies found that a single cattle carcass treated with diclofenac was enough to induce renal failure and visceral gout in the entire vulture population of the surrounding area.