Bird Conservation International

Short communication

Diclofenac is toxic to the Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis: widening the diversity of raptors threatened by NSAID misuse in South Asia

ANIL K. SHARMAa1 c1, MOHINI SAINIa1, SHAMBHU D. SINGHa2, VIBHU PRAKASHa3, ASIT DASa1, R. BHARATHI DASANa2, SHAILEY PANDEYa1, DAULAL BOHARAa3, TOBY H. GALLIGANa4, RHYS E. GREENa4 p1, DIETMAR KNOPPa5 and RICHARD J. CUTHBERTa4

a1 Centre for Wildlife Conservation, Management and Disease Surveillance, Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar 243 122, India.

a2 Avian Disease Section, Division of Pathology, Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar 243 122, India.

a3 Bombay Natural History Society, Hornbill House, S.B. Singh Road, Mumbai 400 001, India.

a4 Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire, UK.

a5 Institute of Hydrochemistry, Technical University Munich, Marchioninistrasse 17, D-81377 Munich, Germany.

Summary

Three Critically Endangered Gyps vultures endemic to South Asia continue to decline due to the use of diclofenac to treat livestock. High nephrotoxicity of diclofenac to Gyps vultures, leading to death, has been established by experiment and observation, in four out of five Gyps vulture species which occur in South Asia. Declines have also been observed in South Asia’s four other non-Gyps vulture species, but to date there has been no evidence about the importance of diclofenac as a potential cause. Neither is there any evidence on the toxicity of diclofenac to the Accipitridae other than vultures. In this study, gross and microscopic lesions and diclofenac tissue levels in Steppe Eagles Aquila nipalensis found at a cattle carcass dump in Rajasthan, India, show evidence of the toxicity of diclofenac for this species. These findings suggest the possibility that diclofenac is toxic to other accipitrid raptors and is therefore a potential threat to much wider range of scavenging species in South Asia.

(Accepted February 12 2013)

(Received November 06 2013)

(Online publication May 27 2014)

Correspondence

c1 Author for correspondence; email: aksharmaivri@rediffmail.com

p1 Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK.