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Side Event

Conserving Critically Endangered Gyps vultures in Asia

Organizer
Bombay Natural History Society

Date and Time
9 October 2012 18:15 - 19:45

Meeting
Eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 11)

The event includes presentations from various organizations on conservation initiatives taken by various organizations called Saving Asia's Vultures from Extinction (SAVE). Critically Endangered Gyps vultures have suffered a 99 per cent decline in Asia over the last 20 years, attributed to the birds eating the carcasses of animals that had recently been treated with diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory treatment. It has been shown that even if less than 1% of animal carcasses contained the minute levels of the drug, that are lethal to Gyps Vultures, this alone would have been enough to cause the collapse of vulture numbers. Vultures perform an important ecosystem service by cleaning up carcasses – indeed since vulture populations have crashed there have been dramatic increases in feral dog numbers which are the main vectors for rabies, as well as indirect costs of carcass disposal, problems for skin and bone collectors, and a number of other environmental pollution consequences such as contamination of ground water. In the absence of vultures, carcasses in rural areas of the sub-continent are skinned and left to rot in fields, which then become unusable for 2-3 weeks, adversely impacting farmer incomes. As per Aichi Target 12, species must be saved from extinction by 2020. Under Aichi Target 14, ecosystem services essential for human health should be conserved. For the conservation of vultures, the compound diclofenac needs to be removed from the vultures' food chain. New NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) need to be tested for their impact on Gyps vultures. Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction (SAVE) partners spearheaded by Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) in India, have been working on phasing out diclofenac through advocacy, campaigns and outreach to the pharmaceutical industry, government and decision makers. The ten SAVE partnership organisations together with governments from India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh have been working collectively and recently signed a Regional Declaration in Delhi May 2012 which highlights the priority areas in need of action. As a result of this and earlier work, diclofenac has been banned from veterinary use in all four South Asian countries, but unfortunately illegal uses of human formulations continue to pose a very serious threat. This side event will bring in focus the experience of BNHS and SAVE partners in vulture conservation and the way ahead for the survival of this species. SAVE partners include: Bombay Natural History Society (India), Bird Conservation Nepal, RSPB (UK), National Trust for Nature Conservation (Nepal), International Centre for Birds of Prey (UK) and Zoological Society of London. Speakers Asad Rahmani, Director BNHS: saving the Gyps vultures in India- the ecosystem service value of vultures Chris Bowden, RSPB: Helping vultures soar: After successful vulture conservation breeding, creating Vulture Safe Zones in the Indian Subcontinent Homi Khusrokhan., President, BNHS: preventing leakage of human diclofenac use in the vulture food chain: engaging the pharmaceutical industry Dr. Hum Gurung, CEO, Bird Conservation Nepal: bringing keystone vultures back from the brink in Nepal: lessons from advocacy and conservation breeding SAVE partners include: Bombay Natural History Society (India), Bird Conservation Nepal, RSPB (UK), National Trust for Nature Conservation (Nepal), International Centre for Birds of Prey (UK) and Zoological Society of London.