Vulture restaurant opens

image: photographer Nick Tudor


Vulture numbers have plummeted catastrophically in south Asia since the 1990s. Scientists were flummoxed by the mysterious mass die-off of the scavenging birds until researchers linked the deaths to vultures eating dead cattle treated with the anti-inflammatory drug, diclofenac, in 1994.

The scientists found that small doses of the drug, given to cattle to treat injury, caused kidney damage and death in vultures. Use of diclofenac is not allowed in Nepal, but conservationists say the ban is largely ignored. As a result, the population of vultures in mountainous Nepal is estimated to have dipped to only about 500 nesting pairs – down from about 50,000 in 1990.

In a drive to protect the vultures, the group opened what it calls a “restaurant” for the birds last year in the Nawalparasi district in southwest Nepal, where sick and old cattle not treated with diclofenac are available. After the cattles’ death, they are offered as “drug-free”, safe food to vultures.

“The ‘restaurant’ has definitely contributed to this increase,” says the group’s conservation officer Dev Ghimire. “Nesting is declining in other areas where there are no such facilities. But here they are getting safe food which is why the numbers have gone up.”

The BBC recently reported an area of India opening a vulture restaurant. Soon there could be a chain.

This entry was posted in Biodiversity, Community Projects, Food & Agriculture, India, Nature & Conservation, Rural communities, Wildlife and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Vulture restaurant opens

  1. suburbanlife says:

    Maybe there is a die-off of the vulture populations in areas where dead people are recycled in the Towers of Silence by vultures. After all people are treated by antibiotics often, and any residuals left in bodies might affect the physiology of vultures. G

  2. Dear Sir,
    Your picture of a Griffon Vulture has been lifted from my ‘blog’ and was taken by my friend, photographer Nick Tudor. I would be appreciated if you would acknowledge his authorship as photographs as good as this take a lot of time and effort.
    What is more, this is a Griffon Vulture in Andalucia where we have had ‘restaurants’ for these birds for many years, a necessary consequence of an EU ban on leaving dead livestock out on the land in an effort to curb disease. This ruling has had a dire consequence for wolves and bears in Spain too.

    Yours sincerely Simon Beckmann

  3. matt says:

    Thanks for letting me know Simon. I’ve added his name to what is a very beautiful image.

    EU rules can turn out to be a bit of a blunt instrument can’t they. Trying to cleanse a rural landscape like that can seem a bit senseless. Good to hear you are doing your bit too. 🙂

  4. Myles says:

    I made a short film about a vulture restaurant in South Africa:


  5. matt says:

    Interesting film Myles. Thanks for sharing that. I’m sure the vultures appreciated being fed the leg from a ‘culled’ elephant.

  6. Val Reed says:

    In my Blog, I like to write about aspects of Andalucian life that visitors might otherwise be unaware of. Vulture Restaurants would be a great topic. (I have climbed up to the one near Los Reales and would like to visit others) I don’t know how to get in touch with Nick to ask him if I can use his marvelous picture – with acknowledgment of course.

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