A few years ago, it became evident that vulture numbers were in decline. The culprit was the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug Diclofenac, which is widely used in human medicine to reduce pain and inflammation. Farmers routinely used it on their cattle for mastitis, bumps and bruises, etc. Unfortunately, this drug is very toxic to vultures: a single feed from a contaminated carcass is enough to kill a vulture. Within a few years, 99% of India’s vultures had been killed.
Diclofenac has recently been authorised for agricultural use in Spain and Italy. These two countries are home to most of Europe’s vultures. These vultures are of the same family as the Indian birds and will undoubtedly be wiped out.
What can and will the Commission do to save Europe’s vulture population?