Chat Archives
Chat on "Vulture crisis in India" dated January 18, 2007

    Susan  Welcome to IWC chat on"Vulture Crisis in India" 
    Susan  Welcome Govind
    Govind_SES_DU  Hello
    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  hello.. 
    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, www.vulturedecline.com 
    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

    actions...... 
    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 
    Govind_SES_DU  hmm 
    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

    meloxicam? 
    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 nitashah_in@tahoo.com 
    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 nitashah_in@yahoo.com 
    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?
    abhiram: kerala...you?
    Govind_SES_DU: cool..im from Delhi
    Govind_SES_DU: u on any messengers?
    abhiram: yahoo...
    Govind_SES_DU: k.. govind_029@yahoo.com
    abhiram: abhiramgsankar@yahoo.co.in
    abhiram: bye...must leave 
    abhiram: gud nite
    Govind_SES_DU: gnite

     

     

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