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State government mulls ban on second drug to save vultures

After banning the veterinary painkiller Diclofenac as a measure to stop the extinction of vultures in the state, the state government is mulling the ban of another painkiller used on cattle.

According to the letter, Aceclofenac, used to treat cattle is equally dangerous, as it metabolises into diclofenac, which is fatal to vultures. Hence, the study asks that the drug be banned. Representation pic
According to the letter, Aceclofenac, used to treat cattle is equally dangerous, as it metabolises into diclofenac, which is fatal to vultures. Hence, the study asks that the drug be banned. Representation pic

The Secretary of Animal Husbandry has written a letter to veterinarians across the state asking them not to use a drug called Aceclofenac, as it can be potentially dangerous to vultures that feed on cattle carcasses.

The department of Animal Husbandry distributed the letter to all veterinary colleges after an independent research by author Pradeep Sharma showed the negative impact of aceclofenac on vultures.

Speaking to MiD DAY, an official from the Animal Husbandry Department said, “We received a letter from an independent research stating that aceclofenac was dangerous to vultures. He also asked us to request all veterinary colleges to stop using this drug to reduce the mortality levels among vultures.”

The letter, copy of which is available with MiD DAY, states that, ‘All veterinary colleges should read research papers and the letter carefully and should respond to the Animal Husbandry Department with their views on using the drug.’

The official letter comes after advocate Jahul Khan wrote a letter after the research by Sharma was published. The report further explains how aceclofenac could be dangerous to vultures.

'The aceclofenac, used to treat cattle is equally dangerous, as it metabolises into diclofenac. Aceclofenac bears a close structural and pharmacological resemblance to diclofenac.'

Expert speaks
When MiD DAY approached Dr Vibhu Prakash from the Vulture Conservation Program of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), he said, “The research shows that the use of aceclofenac can have a negative impact on the already declining vulture population.

So, the Animal Husbandry Department should completely stop the use of this medicine on cattle.” When asked how many vultures still exist in the city, he said it was difficult to provide an exact number. “All I can say is that there are very few vultures in and around Mumbai.”

Did you know?
>> Diclofenac was banned in India in 2006 after it was found that vultures were dying after they ate cattle carcasses treated with the drug
>> From 2003 to 2013, vulture population in India has fallen by 98%.

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