Humans, Nature and Birds
From Room 1:  From Public to Virtual Venues


Short-Term Exhibits for Academic Use

The Exhibit
A five-month exhibit at Stanford University’s Falconer Biology Library (November 2004-April 2005) entitled Changes in Conservation Status called attention to the enormous number of vulture deaths in India that occurred at the end of the millennium.

Since the early 1990s hundreds of thousands of healthy-looking vultures in India had dropped dead. The cause of death appeared to be scavenged food contaminated with diclofenac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug that is given to livestock and tends to concentrate in their liver and kidneys. Autopsies showed that the internal organs of 85 percent of the dead vultures had a buildup of uric acid crystals, usually a telltale sign of kidney failure. The same birds tested positive for diclofenac. This was the first record linking wildlife losses to a veterinary drug. Those losses were significant: in the twelve years between 1992 and 2004. Oriental White-backed Vultures (Gyps bengalensis; shown here) had declined by more than 99 percent, and Long-billed Vultures (G. indicus) by 97 percent. After a slow start, steps were taken to phase out the drug and establish a captive breeding program to rebuild

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Plate 64 Vultures and Crystals Oriental White-backed Vultures (Gyps bengalensis), © 2004/2007 Darryl Wheye.Science Art--Birds

© 2008 Darryl Wheye and Donald Kennedy