When vultures die, rabies and anthrax are born

Published: December 23, 2012
The rotting carcasses of vultures pollute ground water, said IUCN experts at a meeting. The experts were concerned that the population of vultures has gone down from 100 million to only 20,000 in 20 years. PHOTO: FILE

The rotting carcasses of vultures pollute ground water, said IUCN experts at a meeting. The experts were concerned that the population of vultures has gone down from 100 million to only 20,000 in 20 years. PHOTO: FILE


The declining population of vultures is causing a significant rise in diseases, such as rabies and anthrax, in countries in this region, including Pakistan and India.

The rotting animal carcasses also pollute ground water, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) experts pointed out at a meeting with IUCN member organisation’s national committee.

IUCN Asia’s regional director Aban Marker Kabraji mentioned that the population of vultures in South Asia was around 100 million, 20 yeas ago, but now it has gone down to 20,000. “It is one of the fastest declining bird species in the world,” he said. “It is remarkable specie that provides cleaning services free of charge.”

Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Nepal have signed an agreement in Hyderabad, India, to work collectively for vultures’ rehabilitation. “Later, this initiative will be expanded to Lao and Cambodia,” she said, adding that some members also proposed that vulture habitats in Tharparkar and Changa Manga should be declared protected areas.

“We learned at the vulture programme in Hyderabad, India, that Nagarparkar is one of the only two places in Pakistan, where vultures are still found”, said IUCN’s Javed Jabbar, appreciating the World Wildlife Fund-Pakistan’s vulture breeding programme in Changa Manga.


Zulfikarabad project

Several NGO representatives were concerned about the negative impact of Zulfikarabad City Project on the vulnerable ecology of the Indus Delta. They unanimously agreed that there is a need to have an authentic environmental impact assessment on the project. The members pointed out that coal exploration projects in Tharparkar also need be to checked.

Trophy hunting

Trophy hunting – hunting wild game animals – turned out to be an activity that these experts supported. Referring to a news article on the Senate proposing a ban on trophy hunting, the members said that the issue was not presented to the Senate in a proper manner.

The trophy hunting programme in Jeju, South Korea, was a success and it actually increased the number of threatened species in the natural habitats, they pointed out. Residents take special care to protect the animals when they know that they can earn thousands of dollars, an expert explained. The committee noticed that the trophy hunting programme has been confused with illegal poaching, which is a totally different issue.

The members decided to approach the Senate members and present their point of view.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2012.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • Say What?
    Dec 24, 2012 - 3:05AM

    Very confusing article! Why is this vulture being paraded on streets? How the hunting trophies are being managed? The title of the article sound like blaming vultures for rabies & diseases and the picture is promoting killing of vultures.


  • khan
    Dec 27, 2012 - 4:13PM

    yes a very confusing article


  • Jan 4, 2013 - 2:31PM

    Specie? There’s never been such a thing! The singular of species is species!**


  • Alyson
    Jan 4, 2013 - 8:21PM

    So, this is how you rehabilitate vultures is it? Doesn’t look very bird friendly to me!!!


  • KB
    Jan 9, 2013 - 4:25AM

    The use of Diflucan as a veterinary medicine nearly caused vultures in this area to go extinct.
    Now the vultures are still endangered, because some people still break the new laws against use of diflucan for farm animals. The loss of so many of these birds caused diseases to spread, as vulture digestion kills rabies and anthrax that they consume when they consume animal carcasses. loss of many vultures has been indirectly the cause of feral dog packs increasing because they have more carcass food (which the vultures would have eaten) but the dogs’ digestion does not kill anthrax nor rabies, and these dogs can spread these diseases. The increase in dogs, who are not afraid to come into villages has, it is said, also caused some big cats to come closer to villages when they come after the dogs, and some children have been attacked. I believe the article is meant to encourage people not to destroy any vultures. The photo of men walking “hand in hand” with a vulture might seem strange and is unnatural, but could be seen as a positive message, and I feel sure it was meant to be. People in every country need to try to stop use of this drug for animals so that vultures can keep doing what they do in our world.


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