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An attempt to salvage New Delhi's vultures
Until recently, the vulture was an integral part of the Indian landscape. Vultures were so abundant that ornithologists never even thought to monitor their population.
But conservationists are now warning that a drug used to treat sick cows is killing the scavenging vultures by the millions. They say the drug is responsible for a 97 percent decline in the species over the past decade - from 20 million to 40 million birds 12 years ago, to a figure in the low thousands now. The country is facing an ecological disaster of unprecedented proportions, they say.
Wildlife experts have expressed anger at the government's "lethargic" approach to pushing forward a promised ban on the drug, diclofenac, a cheap painkiller for cattle that is mortally poisonous to vultures.