Diclofenac poisoning is widespread in declining vulture populations across the Indian subcontinent

Susanne Shultz, Hem Sagar Baral, Sheonaidh Charman, Andrew A. Cunningham, Devojit Das, G. R. Ghalsasi, Mallikarjun S. Goudar, Rhys E. Green, Ainsley Jones, Prashant Nighot, Deborah J. Pain, Vibhu Prakash

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217 Scopus citations


Recent declines in the populations of three species of vultures in the Indian subcontinent are among the most rapid ever recorded in any bird species. Evidence from a previous study of one of these species, Gyps bengalensis, in the Punjab province of Pakistan, strongly implicates mortality caused by ingestion of residues of the veterinary non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac as the major cause of the decline. We show that a high proportion of Gyps bengalensis and G. indicus found dead or dying in a much larger area of India and Nepal also have residues of diclofenac and visceral gout, a postmortem finding that is strongly associated with diclofenac contamination in both species. Hence, veterinary use of diclofenac is likely to have been the major cause of the rapid vulture population declines across the subcontinent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S458-S460
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue numberSUPPL. 6
StatePublished - Dec 7 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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