The fate of India's vultures
1st October, 2004
India’s vulture population is facing catastrophic collapse and with it the sacrosanct corporeal passing of the Parsi dead
The fate of the vultures of India has been well documented this year, and a terrible fate it’s been too. Three species have been suffering a rapid decline in the last decade, and back in January, the blame for that decline was finally finger-pointed. Diclofenac, a drug used to treat domestic cattle, has found its way into the internal systems of the carrion-eating birds, causing renal failure and death.
The white-backed vulture, in particular, has suffered heavily, declining by perhaps as much as 99.7 per cent in the last 10 years. It’s a catastrophic collapse. Captive breeding programmes are already under way to try to save the three species (which also include the long-billed and slender-billed vultures), while steps are being taken to ban the drug in its veterinarian form.
This might be in time to save the birds, (although whether they will ever regain their earlier populations is another matter), but there’s another race that’s been affected by this saga, and it’s one that might not recover. The Parsi people were already in decline. Having fled Persia during the Islamic incursions and made their home in India, they were accepted on the basis that they did not marry outside...
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