Photo credit: Ganesh H. Shankar
The Red-headed Vulture, Sarcogyps calvus, is listed as ‘CRITICALLY ENDANGERED’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM. Formerly widespread throughout the Indian sub-continent and South-east Asia, this species has undergone significant declines in both range and population size. It has become uncommon in Nepal, and is rare in Pakistan, the north-east of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. There are currently fewer than 10,000 of these vultures in the wild.
The massive decline in Red-headed Vultures is presumed to be caused by the consumption of livestock treated with the veterinary drug Diclofenac (used in the treatment of inflammation, pain and fever). This drug has been proven to be responsible for the huge declines in populations of vultures of the genus Gyps, causing mortality from kidney failure resulting from visceral gout.
The manufacture of Diclofenac has been banned in India, Nepal and Pakistan; however, it may be years before the use of this drug ends completely in these countries. Red-headed Vultures are being carefully monitored in the Indian subcontinent and Cambodia to ensure that any further declines are detected.
To learn more about the Red-headed Vulture, click here. Or visit the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ by clicking their logo below.
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