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Ministry bans diclofenac to save vultures

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
Vultures devour an animal corpse. WCS

The Agriculture Ministry has banned the distribution and use of all kinds of veterinary medicine containing diclofenac, a substance which poses a fatal risk to vultures, an endangered animal.

Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon issued an announcement on Friday, stating that research shows vultures have a strong reaction to diclofenac, which can be fatal. Vultures are exposed to the substance from corpses of animals that have ingested diclofenac, which can be found in medicine used to treat animals.

Mr Sakhon said in order to preserve the vulture population and prevent the birds from becoming extinct in Cambodia, the ministry has issued new measures, including instructing the General Animal Health and Production Department to immediately stop registering and permitting the import of veterinary medicines containing diclofenac, and to instruct the public to use medicines containing melozicam to treat animals instead.

“All relevant units under the Ministry of Agriculture, including provincial and capital Agriculture Departments, veterinary medicine trading companies, suppliers, distributors, veterinary medicine service agents and consumers have to implement this measure effectively and responsibly,” Mr Sakhon said.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, in Cambodia, there are three types of vultures, including white-rumped, slender-billed, and red-headed vultures, with about 280 of the species in Kratie, Ratanakiri, Mondulkiri, Stung Treng and Preah Vihear provinces.

Mao Khean, wildlife research project coordinator of the Wildlife Conservation Society in Preah Vihear province, yesterday said medicines containing diclofenac has been widely used to treat animals, including cows and buffalos, which vultures eat.

He lauded the Ministry of Agriculture’s action in prohibiting the sale, distribution and use of medicine containing the substance, which he notes is most dangerous for vultures.

“For our country, the vultures are not yet at risk due to the veterinary medicine containing diclofenac, while most of the vultures in India and Bangladesh are facing this problem,” Mr Khean said.

“However, we are also concerned, because we have seen the sales of this kind of veterinary medicine in some areas in Cambodia. So I think it’s an important move if the ministry has announced a stop in the use of the substance, because we can prevent the risks in advance,” he added.

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