The conservation of Accipitridae vultures of Nepal: a review

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R.J. Harris


Of the nine Accipitridae vulture species found within Nepal the IUCN categorises White-rumped, Indian Vulture, Slender-billed and Red-headed Vultures as Critically Endangered and Egyptian Vulture as Endangered. Dramatic declines have occurred since the mid 1990s with the White-rumped Vulture, Indian Vulture and Slender-billed Vulture population declining by over 97%. The remaining species are listed as Near Threatened or Least Concern. Veterinary use of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) diclofenac has been proven to be a key threat in the region for Gyps vultures and appears likely that it may also affect other Accipitridae vultures. The drug is transferred to vultures via consumption of dead livestock carcass. Ingestion of the drug causes visceral gout and kidney failure, which leads to the birds death. Consumption of diclofenac and the majority of other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are fatal to individuals. Only one NSAID, meloxicam, has been tested and proven safe for vultures. There are other factors such as food shortage in local scale, habitat loss, climate change and pesticides/poisoning that play some role on population decline. Managing vulture conservation across Nepal can be problematic just as it is throughout the Indian subcontinent due to the variable level of protection afforded to vultures through legislation and enforcement in each political region particularly regarding NSAID regulation and use. However, great gains have been made on removing diclofenac from sale within the Indian subcontinent. Continuing and enhancing the holistic conservation approach between all stakeholders, government and non-government organisations, across the species range is required to conserve them for future generations. Indeed, it is likely that a number of species will become extinct if a greater conservation effort is not forthcoming in the very near future.

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How to Cite
Harris, R. 2013. The conservation of Accipitridae vultures of Nepal: a review. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 5, 2 (Feb. 2013), 3603–3619. DOI:

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