Vulture Project Darwin Initiative
Since the initiation of the project in 1999, several grants have been awarded to the project partners to assist with vulture conservation in South Asia.
In 2001, ZSL was awarded a grant from the UK Government’s Darwin Initiative for the Survival of Species to allow the vulture project partners to identify the cause of vulture decline and to produce a Recovery Plan for the affected species.
As part of the Darwin-funded scheme, ZSL and its project partners established a Vulture Care Centre (VCC) in Pinjore, Haryana, India, with the original objective of holding sick vultures for veterinary investigation. The VCC was officially opened by Mr Elliot Morley, then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, DEFRA, on 7th February 2003, and has proved to be highly successful, both as the scientific base for the project in India and as an important political landmark.
After extensive research, the cause of the catastrophic vulture declines was identified as secondary poisoning with diclofenac, a drug routinely used to treat cattle. Vultures are extremely sensitive to diclofenac and tissue eaten from carcasses of recently treated animals will kill affected vultures within a matter of days.