The vultures of India are gone. In just a couple of decades their numbers have plummeted from tens of millions to tens of thousands with no signs of slowing down. The three main species of South Asian vultures are being wiped out by diclofenac, a mild painkiller farmers give to their cattle. It is used by the Indian people the same way we take aspirin and has been used in recent decades to ease the pain of farm animals.
Tragically, diclofenac is deadly to the vultures, who suffer fatal kidney disease after eating a dead farm animal treated with the painkiller.
This is causing big problems in India. The bodies of dead animals are now more likely to sit and fester or attract packs of feral dogs. Zoroastrians, who have traditionally buried their dead "in the sky" by allowing vultures to eat them, have had to deal with a new reality where the bodies can sit untouched for months.
In short it's a big ol' clusterfrack of a situation. The Virginia Quarterly Review has a fantastic long form article that's worthy of the time to read. Swing over and give it a read for a full understanding of the issue.
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