The last few weeks saw vulture conservation score a few points against the biggest threats impacting on these scavengers worldwide – poison & veterinary drugs such as diclofenac.
First and foremost, a landmark political decision by the conference of the parties of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), held earlier this month in Quito (Equador), adopted a resolution on poisoning, including approval of a set of guidelines to tackle its causes. This resolution includes a ban on veterinary diclofenac, the phasing out of all lead ammunition, and action on rodenticides, insecticides and poison baits.
On veterinary diclofenac, the guidelines now approved by the CMS recommend to “Prohibit the use of veterinary diclofenac for the treatment of livestock and substitute with readily available safe alternatives, such as meloxicam, with mandatory safety-testing of all new veterinary pharmaceuticals for risks to scavenging birds before market authorization is granted”. However, this resolution is not legally binding, and countries can now decide on what to do: “it is for each Party to determine whether or how to implement the recommended actions, considering the extent and type of poisoning risk, whilst having regard to their international obligations and commitments, including those under the Convention".
You can see read the whole text of the resolution, as well as the guidelines, in the links below
This landmark political decision, achieved after months of lobbying by the VCF, BirdLife International, WCS, IUCN and many other organisations, now puts even more pressure on the EU – a signatory to the CMS – to take a final decision regarding veterinary diclofenac in Europe. A technical review of the situation by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is expected in the next weeks, before the EU Commission takes a final decision.
The threat posed by diclofenac and other veterinary agents to avian scavengers has also been highlighted in a great short overview just published – you can also download it below.
All in all, politicians, government representatives, chemists, vulture researchers and conservation practitioners increasingly converge: veterinary diclofenac should be banned in the EU, as evidence of its impacts on vultures is irrefutable, while a safe alternative exists. The VCF now expects the EU Commission to take immediate action to implement these recommendations.