Vultures are nature's most efficient scavengers and play a vital role in the eco-system.
They have prospered for thousands of years, removing carrion (dead animals) from the environment and hence preventing the spread of disease.
There is currently a conservation crisis occuring on the Indian Sub-continent.
Twenty years ago vultures were a common sight throughout Pakistan, India and Nepal, with huge gatherings of vultures sometimes numbering thousands of birds.
However, around 15 years ago field biologists began to notice a dramatic decline in the populations of three Gyps type vultures - the Oriental White Backed
(Gyps bengalensis), Long Billed (Gyps indicus) and Slender Billed Vultures (Gyps tenuerostris).
In the past decade numbers have crashed by 95% and extinction is now a real possibility.
In India, populations of Oriental White-backed Vultures have dropped by 99.7% since 1990.
In Pakistan the situation is even worse.
From more than 2,500 pairs in 2000, none bred there in 2007.
The loss of these scavengers has huge ecological, economic, cultural, and public health effects.
There has been a huge amount of research carried out and in 2003 a study finally revealed that the cause of this catastrophic decline
was the use of a veterinary drug called Diclofenac. This is an anti-inflammatory drug that is in heavy use in agriculture.
It was found that vultures feeding on dead animals that had been treated with Diclofenac were suffering fatal reactions to the drug.
Dehydration, gout and kidney failure occurred with 24 hours and the vulture would die soon after.
The veterinary use of Diclofenac was banned in 2006, but on-going monitoring shows vulture populations continuing to decline,
indicating that it is still in use by farmers.
In response to the Asian Vulture Crisis there have been several projects set up throughout the countries affected.
Since 2007 Gauntlet has been working with The Hawk Conservancy supporting the Gyps
Vulture Restoration Project at Changa Manga in Pakistan.
Each year we provide direct funding for the project, including all the kind donations made by visitors. The aim is to conserve a viable population of
White Backed Vultures with the long term aim of breeding healthy captive vultures for future release back into the wild.