An Indian Cattle Drug Is Killing Vultures — by the millions:
Conservationists said Wednesday that they expect Indian authorities soon to ban a cattle drug blamed for killing more than 90 percent of the country’s vultures.
Millions of long-billed, slender-billed and oriental white-backed vultures have died in South Asia after eating cattle carcasses tainted with diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory and painkiller given to sick cows.
Vultures are vital to the ecosystem:
Vultures play a vital role in disposing of carcasses, keeping down populations of stray dogs and rats that also feed on dead cattle and can spread disease among humans.
Vultures are also crucial to Zoroastrianism:
Zoroastrians consider the earth and fire too sacred to use for either burial or cremation, and traditionally leave their dead atop towers, to be consumed by vultures.