Dhaka, Sept 05 – Experts are calling on the government to take immediate steps to ban the Ketoprofen, and other harmful veterinary drugs for vultures in Bangladesh, and promote the safer alternative, Meloxicam. They came up with the urge from a webinar organized to commemorate the International Vulture Awareness Day 2020 by Bangladesh Forest Department and IUCN.
When Ketoprofen, a veterinary drug, is administered to cattle, and if the cattle die within a certain period and is consumed by vultures, it becomes fatal to the scavengers due to kidney failure.
Environment, Forest and Climate Change minister Md. Shahab Uddin attended the webinar as chief guest.
Habibun Nahar, MP, Deputy Minister of the ministry and Secretary Ziaul Hasan, NDC, and additional secretary Dr. Md. Billal Hossain, of the ministry attended the webinar as special guests.
The webinar had a diverse group of panelists, including academicians, government official, researchers, practitioners, communicators and representatives of various national and international environmental bodies, and civil society.
The speakers at the discussion highlighted various pressing issues facing current vulture conservation efforts, both nationally and in the Indian Subcontinent.
The webinar was chaired by Md. Amir Hossain Chowdhury, Chief Conservator of Forests, and moderated by Raquibul Amin, Country Representative of IUCN Bangladesh.
In his speech, Minister Shahab Uddin said that the ministry banned the most harmful drug Diclofenac in the past and will do everything in its capacity to ensure that Ketoprofen and other harmful drugs are banned throughout Bangladesh.
He requested the pharmaceutical companies to take into account the harmful effects of these drugs and stop producing them for the sake of the vulture population in Bangladesh.
He expressed his gratitude to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for his leadership and foresight in conserving nature and wildlife of Bangladesh since birth when laws and acts were formulated for the protection of nature and wildlife.
Md. Amin Hossain Chowdhury, Chief Conservator of Forests, said the social forestry programmes being implemented will lead to an increase of habitats for the vultures.
He said that the Forest Department will secure a long-term safe food source for the vultures and there is a need for more campaigns to increase awareness among stakeholders on vulture conservation.
The recommendations of the webinar will be shared with the relevant government Ministries and Departments for implementation.
Deputy Minister Habibun Nahar mentioned that vultures primarily need safe food and large trees and vulture safe zones should be expanded into new areas. She also emphasized on the continuous need for awareness among all stakeholders to make vulture conservation in Bangladesh more effective.
Mr. Ziaul Hasan, NDC, secretary, also emphasized that the ministry has been able to ban Ketoprofen in the two Vulture Safe Zones and will work on publicizing Meloxicam as the safer alternative to conserve vultures.
He highlighted that the plantation of 10 million saplings throughout Bangladesh to commemorate the Mujib Borsho will play an important part in increasing the vulture habitat of the country.
Vultures play a critical role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem, by controlling the spread of diseases to humans.
Unfortunately, over 99.9% of the vultures of South Asia have disappeared over the past couple of decades, and Bangladesh’s vulture population has been similarly affected with only 260 resident vultures left.
The threats the vultures of Bangladesh face are numerous, but the primary threat was the veterinary painkilling drug, which has been the sole reason for the unprecedented vulture tragedy of South Asia.
The day highlights the need for conservation of vultures and overcoming their immediate and persistent threats. Bangladesh has been observing this day since 2014 through the Forest Department and IUCN Bangladesh. – UNB