Scientists and NGOs are calling for an immediate ban of veterinary diclofenac after finding it could kill as many as 6,000 vultures per year in Spain, home to 95% of the Griffon Vulture population. A safe alternative exists but the Spanish government and the EU have rejected a diclofenac ban, instead approving 2 new drugs that contain it.
Vultures are scavengers that play an integral part in the ecosystem by disposing of carcasses that may otherwise spread pathogens to nearby wildlife and human populations. Unfortunately, many vulture species are threatened with extinction; South Asian populations have plummeted drastically after consuming livestock carcasses containing the drug diclofenac, which is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). This NSAID causes renal failure in vultures, leading to the accumulation of uric acid in the body which presents as visceral gout. Many other vulture species continue to suffer habitat loss around the world.