Categories: NewsSouth Africa

Cattle painkiller found toxic to vultures

Conservationists are urging SA farmers not to feed the carcasses of cattle and other animals containing traces of the painkiller, carprofen to vultures…

A recent study has found that while carcasses of cattle treated with carprofen were generally harmless to vultures, this did not totally eliminate the health risk posed to these often critically endangered carrion birds.

The study of the effects non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) had on southern African vultures was conducted by researchers from the University of Pretoria, the United Kingdom, and various conservation partners.

A statement by vulture conservation organisation VulPro said that carprofen concentrations at injection sites in cattle were often extremely high. Vultures that fed on carrion from here showed severe kidney and liver damage and died as a result.

“In summary, some vultures will die from eating some carcasses of cattle treated with carprofen. So far, only one common drug, meloxicam, has been shown not to kill vultures at the maximum level of exposure in a carcass. Tens of drugs belong to [the NSAID] family and the toxicity of most remains unknown,” said VulPro’s statement.

The conservation organisation pointed out that diclofenac, another NSAID, had already been found to be highly toxic to vultures. The widespread use of diclofenac to treat cattle and buffalo in south Asia had been responsible for “catastrophic population declines in vultures in that region,” said VulPro.

“We cannot afford to lose any [vultures] to carprofen or any other known unsafe NSAID,” said VulPro founder Kerri Wolter. “Carprofen should not be used to treat livestock in regions where the carcasses of these livestock are provided to vultures.”

Published by
Lloyd Phillips

Recent Posts

Mixed reactions to new minimum wage for farmworkers

Two of South Africa’s national agricultural organisations have expressed opposing views on the new national minimum wage due to come…

9 hours ago

How to sustainably manage livestock after a drought

The protracted drought in the western regions of South Africa will not continue forever. Once the drought has been broken,…

1 day ago

Value adding and ecotourism boost small blackberry farm

The owner of a small farm has to find innovative ways to remain financially viable. Natalie Turck of Wildebraam Berry…

3 days ago

‘Drought resulted in wine imports’

South African wine cellars and traders imported more than 40 million litres of wine during the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 seasons…

6 days ago

The reality ahead of SONA 2020

Many South Africans will be watching President Cyril Ramaphosa deliver his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on 12 February,…

6 days ago

Rewards and pitfalls of communal wool production

Volumes of formally marketed communal wool in the Eastern Cape have increased from 222 610kg in the 1997/1998 season to…

6 days ago