- Hello, Jeff - I know that many people will not be interested
in the following article as Vultures are not the warmest of creatures and
loved by humans. What people must realize is that Vultures, like all of
God's creatures, have their place on the planet and serve a very important
purpose, especially in rural areas of India and other parts of South Asia.
Due to the loss of Vultures, wild dog populations are on the rise. This
has increased rabies virus outbreaks and caused more human cases.
- Another problem is going to be the spread of disease
as the vultures are not going to be around and won't be scavaging and "cleaning"
up the environment. This will lead to increases in disease outbreaks.
- A vulture may not be our favorite creature, but they
are sorely needed on the planet. They may turn out to be our "miner's
canary" fortelling higher animals fate.
- There needs to be a balance of nature and when one species
disappears, the balance shifts and serious consequences might result.
- Patricia Doyle
- New Lab To Tackle Mystery Of Vanishing Vultures
- From ProMED-mail email@example.com Source - New Scientist,
2-11-03 (edited) Byline: Debora MacKenzie
- A new laboratory has opened in India dedicated to identifying
the mystery disease that is exterminating South Asia's vultures. But the
die-off is now so bad that scientists fear they will have to try breeding
at least one species in captivity to save it from extinction, even before
they diagnose the killer infection.
- The big griffon vultures that used to be ubiquitous in
India started dying off in the 1990s. In 2000 New Scientist reported that
95 percent of Indian vultures of the genus Gyps had disappeared. Since
then, the remaining population has halved, and the die-off has spread to
Nepal and Pakistan.
- Scientists fear the disease could spread to griffon vultures
across Eurasia and Africa. "The ecological impacts could be horrendous,"
says Deborah Pain at the UK's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
- It is already horrendous in India. Griffon vultures were
the main way in which dead animals were disposed off. Now, says Andrew
Cunningham of the Zoological Society of London, "the superabundance
of uneaten animal carcasses poses a direct health threat and has led to
an explosion in the stray dog population." These dogs carry diseases
- The cause of the deadly disease is still unknown, though
suspicion centres on a virus. But it has been impossible to investigate
fully. This is partly because collecting sick or dead birds is extremely
difficult, and partly because Indian law prevents the export of tissue
samples for study in foreign laboratories, although some samples have been
allowed to go to Australia.
- New hope has come with the opening of the Vulture Care
Centre near Chandigarh, north of New Delhi, on 7 Feb 2003. It is funded
by a grant from the UK's Darwin Initiative to scientists from the Zoological
Society of London, the The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and
the Bombay Natural History Society.
- "The main purpose of the centre is to find out what
is killing the vultures and whether anything can be done to make affected
birds recover," says Cunningham. The UK division of Synermed, a diagnostics
company, has donated an automated blood analyser to help track the disease
process, determine which organs it damages, and gauge the effect of treatments.
- "Even doing the basic veterinary work is quite a
step forward," Cunningham told New Scientist. If the disease is identified
and birds can be tested to ensure they are healthy, the centre will be
converted to a captive breeding facility to help the population recover.
- But Cunningham warns that the Darwin funding runs out
in 2004. Furthermore, one of the 3 species at risk, _Gyps tenuirostris_,
which is unique to the Indian subcontinent, is now down to a few hundred
birds, and faces extinction.
- ProMED-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
- The opening of the Vulture Care Centre seems to be a
promising step in the efforts to control the vulture die-off. Details on
the Darwin Initiative's project have been included in ProMED-mail's posting
"Vulture die-off - India, Pakistan, Nepal (04) 20021018.5590".-
- Patricia A. Doyle, PhD Please visit my "Emerging
Diseases" message board at: http://www.clickitnews.com/emergingdiseases/index.shtml
Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa Go with God and in Good Health