Slender-billed Vulture

(Gyps tenuirostris)

 

Size:

Length: 31-37 in; weight: 9-16 lbs

Lifespan:

20 years

Population:

Approx. 1,000 individuals in the wild

Family life and  Breeding:

Monogamous pairs

Habitat:

Savannah and open woodlands

How do they  move:

Flight speed is up to 90 mph

What do they eat:

Feeds mostly on animal carcasses

Closest relatives:

Himalayan Vulture

Tie to humans:

Appears as a character in stories told by the Malays

photo: wikimedia

 

Fun fact:

 

Many species of vultures feed together with little competition because they do not feed on the same kind of meat within a carcass.

 

Conservation Status:

 

Two vulture species, the Slender-billed Vulture and the Long-billed Vulture, are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN.  The major threat to the survival of these species is the introduction of the veterinary drug, diclofenac.  Diclofenac is an analgesic drug given to cows in the Indian subcontinent.  When vultures ingest the drug from feeding on carcasses they cannot rid themselves of the drug and they die.  This drug has severely reduced the population of these two species.

 

What is being done now?

 

When it was discovered that the populations of these species were declining, there were many things that were done in order to stop the vulture populations from becoming extinct.  Breeding programs have been established to help increase the population of the vultures.  In 2006, India, Nepal, and Pakistan all issued a ban on the veterinary drug Diclofenac. 

 

What should be done in the future?

 

Vultures are a vital part of the ecosystem because they eat carrion and the decline in population numbers will have a detrimental effect on the ecosystem as a whole.  There are many things that need to be done in the future so that these two species of vultures do not go extinct.  This includes the discontinuation of the drug Diclofenac in veterinary practices in all countries where these species can be found, and more testing on alternative drugs that have the same effect without harming vultures. Carcasses of animals treated with the drug should be properly disposed of or buried so that vultures will not be able to ingest the drug.

 

Content provided by Canisius College students under the direction of Michael Noonan, PhD.