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Sale and use of diclofenac med banned to save vultures

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Vultures feast on a carcass in Preah Vihear province. BirdLife International Cambodia Programme

Sale and use of diclofenac med banned to save vultures

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, in cooperation with BirdLife International Cambodia, has banned the sale and use of diclofenac to safeguard the remaining Cambodian vulture population.

BirdLife International Cambodia on Monday issued a press release saying: “The Government of Cambodia has banned the veterinary sale and use of diclofenac in the Kingdom with immediate effect.

“The Government has taken this measure to safeguard the remaining Cambodian vulture population, which is declining and threatened with extinction.”

Bou Vorsak, Cambodia Programme Manager at Birdlife International, said the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries gave notice of the measures to stop the import, distribution, supply and use of diclofenac in treating any kind of animal that could impact vultures.

“Our working group has issued a press release on the ministry’s notice with regard to the measures to stop the import, distribution, supply and use of all kinds of diclofenac,” Vorsak said.

He said diclofenac was absent from Cambodia from 2004 until 2017 but remerged in 2018.

“We first found the medicine in Siem Reap province. A licensed company imported it, so we requested the ministry to ban its further sale and distribution. The medicine was imported from Vietnam and India,” Vorsak said.

He said vultures in Cambodia are at risk of extinction, with numbers declining some 50 per cent in recent years. The 2019 national census showed that only 120 recorded vultures are remaining in the Kingdom.

Vorsak said poisoning and loss of habitat were the main reasons behind their decrease.

Dr Julia Stenkat, an Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity veterinarian, said diclofenac was not a danger to most animals, but it was fatal to vultures.

“Diclofenac, whilst harmless to cattle and other livestock, results in the death of vultures if they feed on a carcass of an animal previously treated with this drug,” she said.

Dr Nou Vonika, the public health director of the Department of Animal Health and Veterinary at the General Directorate of Animal Health and Production, said that Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon recognised the impact of diclofenac on the Kingdom’s vultures and supported the ban.

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