Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Mumbai: The serious threat from the veterinary drug - diclofenac - to various species of vultures has been known for a long time. Research now shows that the killer drug seems to be preying upon other birds of prey too. A paper published today in the Cambridge University Press journal - Bird Conservation International – by scientists from BNHS-India, UK-based Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, has revealed that two Steppe Eagles found dead at a cattle carcass dump in Rajasthan had diclofenac residue in their tissues.
Steppe Eagles under threat
The recent findings based on the tests carried out on the bodies of the two Steppe Eagles found in Rajasthan showed the same clinical signs of kidney failure as seen in Gyps vultures after they had ingested diclofenac. Researchers have observed extensive visceral gout, lesions and uric acid deposits in the liver, kidney and spleen of the two birds and diclofenac residue in the tissues.
Steppe Eagle is a winter visitor to most areas in northern and central India and some areas in western and eastern India. It also feeds on carcass dumps. Other species of Aquila eagles that are known to frequent carcass dumps include Tawny Eagle, Eastern Imperial Eagle and Indian Spotted Eagle. Steppe Eagle is closely related to Golden Eagle found in the UK, the vulnerable Spanish Imperial Eagle and other globally vulnerable or declining Eurasian eagles. Scientists now fear that all species in this genus, known as Aquila, are susceptible to diclofenac. With fourteen species of Aquila eagles distributed across Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe and North America, this means that diclofenac poisoning should now be considered a global problem.