Nepal makes drug to halt vulture decline

Nepal makes drug to halt vulture declineNepal has begun producing a new cattle drug intended to halt a big decline in endangered vultures, which were being poisoned by a previous version when they fed off carcasses of farm animals, conservationists said on Friday.

A local company in Nepal has begun production of meloxicam, which is considered a safe alternative for anti-inflammatory diclofenac used earlier by farmers in the region, said Hem Sagar Baral of the Birds Conservation Nepal.

Diclofenac was widely used to treat many types of ailments in farm animals, but research showed that it was responsible for the deaths of vultures who fed off the carcasses of these animals.

The US-based Peregrine Fund, which is working to conserve birds of prey, has reported that South Asia's vulture population plunged by an alarming 95 percent since 1995. It said the widespread use of diclofenac was directly responsible for the decline.

Conservationists campaigned to ban diclofenac in Nepal, and the government responded by banning its import and its production in the country.