Susan Welcome to IWC chat on"Vulture Crisis in India"
Susan Welcome Govind
Susan Hi ns vulture
nsvulture Hi everybody this is nita online
Govind_SES_DU Hello all...this is govind this side
Susan Nita is just logging in. She will start off with an overview. In the meantime keep your questions ready
Susan Ok Nita I did not recognize you
Govind_SES_DU Yup..I think she`s already here!
nsvulture The vultures esp. the Gyps genera have been on the decline since over a decade (15 years)
Govind_SES_DU Ma'm is the decline in India only or has it been observed elswhere too?
nsvulture There are 9 sps. of vultures in India... of which the resident sps. have been the victims
nsvulture Govind.. south asia Afghanistan to Cambodia has been impacted
Govind_SES_DU What are the reasons that have been identified for the same?
abhiram hello all
Govind_SES_DU Is the drug diclofenac the only reason?
Govind_SES_DU hello abhiram
abhiram is DDT a reason?
nsvulture It was BNHS in India which had set off the alarm about the vulture decline.... in early 90s eventually with active research by BNHS esp.
Dr. Vibhu and his team who had been exploring the various possible means of the decline... disease, resource crunch, nesting habitat... and finally
while India was head on with its search it was in 2003 in Pakistan we had the final break through .. diclofenac a pain killer used in the veterinary
sector was the culprit
Govind_SES_DU Hm..so is diclofenac the only reason then...i mean do we now know the cause of the problem?
abhiram has the drug been phased out?
nsvulture AbhiramNo DDT is not the reason... although this has affected the egg laying of other raptors..
Susan Welcome qqforvulture
abhiram i think DDT was a problem in north america sometime ago....when mosquito population was to bereduced...
nsvulture Govind Diclofenac is the cause which has led to such a sharp and a fast decline the fastest in the history of any wild bird species..
Govind_SES_DU If that is established as a proven fact, then shoun't there be a complete ban on its use....jus like DDT has been banned for other reasons
nsvulture Diclofenac formulations for the veterinary sector has been banned the Indian Govt. has taken a quick step probably the fastest actions in the field of conservation
Govind_SES_DU ..and has that helped increase the vulture population?
Govind_SES_DU or stabilize it...to start with?
nsvulture Diclofenac is a magic dug used world over in the human sector for rheumatoid arthritis, getting the ban on the drug totally is a global issue..
surely we do have means through which we could have total control over its use in vet. sector tby amending the policies
abhiram what about the new breeding centres that have commenced operations...are they functioning as on paper?
Govind_SES_DU Well...thats true...though banning doesnt alwasy work....for we know...even DDT is still used 20 yrs after being banned :(
abhiram vultures arenot prolific breeders...so it might take them a while to recover...
nsvulture vulture conservation has been doing very well esp. the new year began with joy of having a chick in the captivity at the Pinjore breeding
centre... a second chick too has followed... this itself shows it is not just on paper...
Govind_SES_DU Where all exactly are the breeding programs going on?
abhiram that's really good...just saw them now on the net...
nsvulture Definitely we will never see a population as high as before... India used to have the highest densities of the white backed vul. in the world
nsvulture a lot of efforts are involved in the vulture conservation in south asia, where we have international and national agencies working hard and even harder to get the funds to help the vultures survive... RSPB, ZSL, Darwin
Initiative are a few
Govind_SES_DU ok..and where all are they based?
abhiram maybe the bald eagle success story will work out here right?
abhiram RSPB seems to be attaching a lot of importance to this issue..
nsvulture Vultures lay a single egg annually they sexually mature at the age of 4 or 5 years...
nsvulture We have had fantastic campaigns ongoing in various parts of the country... We had a vulture campaign film called the Vanishing Vultures
which has been dubbed into 7 Indian languages... as an outreach to the grass roots and the decision makers..
abhiram do the vultures face any threat from local communities?
nsvulture look at the sites of the
www.bnhs.org, www.rspb.org.uk for constant information on the vultures,
abhiram vulturedecline.com is having some problem
nsvulture andhra pradesh a local community used to relish vulture delicacies
abhiram how is the substitute meloxicamm working out?
nsvulture The cases of the condor and the bald eagle have yielded results after decades and decades of hard work put in by conservationists in the
Developed world... I think India is doing very very well and has accelerated its speed further with the full support from the various ministries of the
state and central government.
Govind_SES_DU Its certainly difficult to tell a certain community to stop doing something they`ve been doing from ages
Govind_SES_DU Hm...I think that was http://www.vulturedeclines.org/
qqforvulture dr shah i appreciate your effort in getting ban on diclofenac, what do you think about pricing of meloxicam
nsvulture finally the vulture safe drug which had been tested out in S. Africa on the surrogate of the OWB vulture meloxicam final phase testing was
done in India on vul and other scavengers... and is definately the potential pain killer
abhiram its really amazing that our governments are interested...unlike the case of the tiger...
nsvulture Meloxicam had been 4 times expensive than diclofenac but today is just a little double the cost of diclofeanc
Govind_SES_DU Just saw the pictures and the media coverage....great work!
Govind_SES_DU I think some sort of subsidy can be provided on the drug...to bring down the costs to diclifenac level.
nsvulture Talking tigers will be many days of chat
Govind_SES_DU yup...it then involves the people too...the tribals...the bill will then come in...and it will go on and on !
abhiram sorry for the diversion.i didnot wish for that to happen...was just comparing the support the issues receive..
nsvulture The vul. advocacy prgm has been trying to communicate and dialogue with the pricing authority and the MoC&F who have been very
positive... simple economics as I understand is more production would lead to the price equivalent to diclofenac
Govind_SES_DU Yes..that should work out..
Govind_SES_DU Are you working on awareness issue too...as in spreading the message of the harm being brought bout by the use of diclofenac?
nsvulture The concern which our advocacy prgm has come up with is the other NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) i.e.pain killers are now
creeping into the vet. sector... which we are very vigilant to and are looking at the possible toxicity testing of the same...
abhiram Dr.Shah do the tests on meloxicam show up positively? The risk of failure will be too great...
nsvulture Toxicity test is for scavengers the first group to be exposed to drugged carcasses.... and the other painkillers are... paracetomol
nimesulide, ibruprofen, ketoprofen.. which are a cause for concern and need to create awareness amongst the vets... and the farming communities....
and the dairy co-operatives... who have the para-medics (quacks)...
qqforvulture what other drugs have been tested so far, what about other pain killers
abhiram how has the industry responded?...is it creating any troubles for the programme?
qqforvulture what other drugs have been tested so far, what about other non said pain killers
Govind_SES_DU I think this is one of those cases which show how the country has many excellent toxicologists....but not one good eco-toxicologist
abhiram how has the response of the local community been? have responded positively to idea of a newer, costlier drug?
nsvulture We have been also in communication with The drug manufacturerers although some of the most high profile ones have been very proactive
and have taken steps like retrenching the diclofenac from the market and destroying the quota
nsvulture The farming community look at actions and reactions on the beloved sick cattle head.... actions of meloxicam are indeed slower than some
of the NSAIDs although in a long run meloxicam is much safer..... this has to be communicated and awareness has to be created about the drug
chris Hello from UK... Chris Bowden here with Lesley Nundy of our youth department... just to clarify on drugs safety-tested: only meloxicam has
been tested so far although there may be others that preliminary indications suggest they could also be safe.
abhiram i have a doubt regarding the toxicity tests...how do you realise the effects of a drug on a species without testing on it? do you use common
raptors and scavengers for testing?
Govind_SES_DU Yes..even I would like to know the tox. testing protocol
nsvulture Abhi you need to see my earlier briefing the surrogate vul sp. in africa were tested
chris you can check with questionnaires to vets on treatments and the results... this is how meloxicam showed up as a potentially safe drug to test
qqforvulture abhiram check publications on diclo test available on net, experiment was very well designed and result were conclusive
Govind_SES_DU How can questionnaires to vets determine how safe a drug is to the ecosystem?
chris that is, you ask vets who have treated vultures in zoos what happened... did they survive, did they get gout etc...
abhiram so the key is reaching out to the grassroots, and making people understand...by the way do the international/national organisations
supporting the conservation programme help out the farmers (other than spreading awareness)? is it possible for them to offer subsidies for
chris yes, getting the cost of meloxicam down is now key in my view, and your advice on whether getting a subsidy is really feasible in the fairly short
term would be really helpful
nsvulture A brief as to how meloxicam was identified... Zoos, wl. rehab centres and vet worldwide were sent questionnaires for detailed infor on sps
and # of indivi treated, NSAIDs used, doses, freq, tmt duration....are some of the parameters...
abhiram yes Mr.chris, i believe that short term measures can help the attitude of local communities to change...
Govind_SES_DU I need a clarification here...isnt meloxicam a substitute for diclofenac?
nsvulture Meloxi, diclo, aspirin, carprofen, dexamethasone, flunixin, ibuprofen, ketoprofen and phenylbutazone were the NSAIDs .. frm which
meloxicam showed no deleterious effects... and was those taken up for the toxicity testing which lasted for over a year and half in s. Africa with final
test in india
abhiram yes it is.. a safer one...
Govind_SES_DU and if that is so....then why is it being tested on the vultures...and not on the cattles? I mean what if its ineffective to the cattles?
nsvulture meloxicam is the established substitute the story just conveyed is how meloxicam came into the pix.
Govind_SES_DU Oh...now it all makes sense
chris can such a subsidy really be implemented though, or should we be looking to market forces (might take longer) to bring down the price?
Govind_SES_DU Subsidy is possible....if the govt. can be convinced
nsvulture No painkiller can be ineffective on cattles it had to be tested on the vul... to see if there could be any similar effects as tht of diclofenac
which could be fatalistic
Govind_SES_DU Being primarily an agri economy...subsidy for farmers is not always a problem here
abhiram market forces are unreliable...i believe in direct government intervention or other legal moves by NGOs/civil society...
chris ...and bear in mind that any further testing would take many months...
Govind_SES_DU @Dr. Shah...on a different note...if i may...have u read/heard about the missing sparrows in Delhi?
abhiram testing may not be necesary now, as almost all experts feel that meloxicam's the future (atleast for now)...
Govind_SES_DU for Dr. Susan wud tell you...sparrows have jus vanished from this city...where they were once found almost everywhere.
Govind_SES_DU A drug is just that..."drug"...and soon we know its backlashes
nsvulture the issue of having other painkillers for vet. use is of great concern which the vulture conservationists will be battling in the coming few
weeks... trying to convince the MoA, MoH Drug Controller General of India, and the largest of all is to see how we could stop the rolling over of the
diclofenac frm the human sector to vet sect.. although MoEF did try its best to get the cess on the human diclofenac but it did not come through due to
complicated revenue clauses...
qqforvulture it can not be one strategy, rather subsidy, production level by pharmas and licencing to smaller pharms etc which may help
abhiram i am sorry govind, but you are being very pessimistic....though i too advocate caution.
abhiram and dont take that personally...
Govind_SES_DU Its not about pessimism..its what history has taught us....
Govind_SES_DU for DDT was a god sent..until Racheal Carson blew the whistel....and told us bout the 'Silent Spring'
abhiram at the beginning of this talk even i was pessimistic...but i believe the move regarding vultures was right and is worth the risk...
chris of course we are comfortable to advocate meloxicam, (thank goodness it is out of patent, and 8+ companies producing in India already)... and I
suppose that even if a subsidy takes a while to get, the companies will foresee it coming and put more effort into producing it?
nsvulture The major aspect is the amendment in the Durg and Cosmetic Acts which has yet to consider species dependent on livestock ..... the
repercussions/impacts of various newly introduced drugs that are having on human and other sps. definitely calls for more strong pharmacovigilance
in our country though it is at its infancy concentrating on human sector..... but vet pharmacoviglance is very essential too
abhiram can you please elaborate on the Act, Dr.Shah?
Govind_SES_DU "People and Conservation"....is something tht will haunt us for times to come...im stil not comfy with the tribals right bill!
abhiram just the amendment you specified...
nsvulture I think vul. conservation is a fine example of the conservationists working hand in hand with the govt... an example for other neighboring
countires to follow Nepal is doing great too for saving its vultures
Govind_SES_DU Yes thats true indeed...its a rare thing..tht doesnt happen al the time!
chris (from my prev comment) ...but we also have to be a little cautious in case it (meloxicam) is found to have another unforeseen side-effect (not
anticipated, but plausible)
Govind_SES_DU I think thats because the ecosystem service that the vultures provide...is quite apparent...and hence the govt and ppl are already
senstized with what will happen with the decline of the vulture population
abhiram if nepal's good with all the political activity there, then we must surely become the best...
nsvulture Diclofenac unfortuanately comes under the schedule H durg category.... it cannot be available over the counters sans a prescription... we
need to revisit... the scheduled drugs
Govind_SES_DU @chris...and what would that be?
nsvulture the Parsi is the community most affected due to the need of vul. in their funerary rituals
chris just have to remember that no one expected that a cattle drug might affect a vulture
Govind_SES_DU Yes....People say..thats why the vulture story first broke in mumbai
abhiram isn't it good that diclofenac is difficult to obtain (that is, without a prescription)?
Govind_SES_DU yes...thts wat i was wondering...this should be good...tht it cant be bought so easy.
nsvulture unfortunately is available v.v. easily over th ecounter sans prescription
abhiram its difficult to anticipate side effects on ecology/life forms until its quite evident (or too late...)
Govind_SES_DU oh..tht way!
Govind_SES_DU ..yes, and thts why the need for good eco-toxicologists.
abhiram @govind...toxicologists cant test the drug for every species we know...these risks can't be overridden...they will exist...
nsvulture So wish all of you could contribute in actions to save the vultures... and help stop the use of diclofenac in vet. sector by creating awareness
amongst your neighboring vets and dairy co-op... do let me know if you need copies of the film get in touch at
abhiram Dr.Shah, hasn't diclofenac been banned?...
Govind_SES_DU thats what....and thats why i say "eco"toxicologists..and not just mere toxicologists...alas if only we could have some
nsvulture sorry is
Govind_SES_DU thanks for the contact info
abhiram thank you Dr.Shah for the talk..
nsvulture diclo has been banned look at my initial brief.....begin of chat
Govind_SES_DU Thanks for the enlightening talk.
abhiram so how is it possible to buy a banned product...even with a prescription?
nsvulture Save vul tures natures free incinerators....
nsvulture We are not able to have the drug usage controlled even in human many painkillers are prescription based but yet is avail sans prescription
abhiram are banned drugs available with a prescription?
nsvulture We need our the state drug inspectors to be well supported and equipped for their jobs this job profile is understaffed across our country
Govind_SES_DU I think even the awareness level is usually low as well
nsvulture DDt was banned... yet available... nimesulide banned for infant use.. yet available.... some eg.
abhiram am i prolonging the talk? are we supposed to wind up now...or can we continue this?
nsvulture Awareness is the crux and we will all have to join hands if we have to save the vultures the master of the sky
nsvulture well susan what do u have to say.....
nsvulture do we go on chatting
abhiram what i wanted to know was the time when we are supposed to stop....(if such a thing exists)?
nsvulture any more queries ... do feel free ... ishall send in some of the latest published literature to all who want to know more
Govind_SES_DU Yes..would love to have that...I think you can distribute thro th Yahoo Grp even...or individual mails
nsvulture Pakistan too is putting in effort to save the vultures
nsvulture: So thank you everybody and hope has pushed u all to think and act to save the vultures good luck and goodnight
Govind_SES_DU: Thanks to you too
nsvulture: nita is signing off
Govind_SES_DU: Good night
abhiram: good night..thanks...
Govind_SES_DU: where u from abhi?
Govind_SES_DU: cool..im from Delhi
Govind_SES_DU: u on any messengers?
Govind_SES_DU: k.. firstname.lastname@example.org
abhiram: bye...must leave
abhiram: gud nite