“Carcasses for Germany”, asked the vulture. And in today´s crucial German elections – key for the future of Europe, the German electors expressed support for the ecosystem services provided by vultures – nature’s clean-up crew. Vultures don’t kill, they eat the flesh of other dead animals, thus helping to reduce the spread of disease and eliminating the need for the treatment and incineration of thousands of tons of animal remains every year, saving us millions of euros in waste management and potential emissions of hundreds of thousands of tons of C02 per year.
Yet they are one of the most threatened bird groups on the planet, with 16 of its 23 species at serious risk of extinction. Europe’s vultures are an exception -with 3 of the 4 species doing well, mostly because of the considerable conservation investment done by the EU, national and regional governments, the VCF and other conservation organisations.
However, they are seriously threatened by veterinary diclofenac. This anti-inflammatory drug, harmless to humans, can potentially kill vultures and its use is unnecessary, since there are equally effective veterinary alternatives. Vultures may be exposed to the drug by feeding on the carcasses of animals which have previously been treated with this veterinary drug. In the Indian subcontinent, the presence of diclofenac in only 1% of the carcasses of abandoned cows in the field led to the near extinction – a 99% decline – of five species of Vultures. Its use is now banned in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Iran and Pakistan, and this has slowed the decline of vultures there.
Unfortunately vet diclofenac is permitted both by the European Union and by the national governments of Spain and Italy. In Portugal, the authorities are assessing a request for a permit.
Join the German people and vote for vultures – please sign a petition http://www.banvetdiclofenac.com/en/home/ asking EU authorities and the governments of Italy and Spain to #banvetdiclofenac!
PS – In the cartoon, the zebra says “My dad voted for them because they are not lions”. Indeed, vultures do not kill prey. Zebras may rest at peace.