Rapid Action Fund ,

Organisation: BirdLife International (Asia) and Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA)

Project focus: Rapid surveys to establish toxic drug presence and current impacts to Myanmar’s vulture populations

Location: Kachin, Myanmar

Project date: January 2022 – January 2023 (ongoing)

Species: White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis, Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris, Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus

Supported by: Fondation Segré

The challenge

Vulture populations have been decimated around Southeast and South Asia through the use of veterinary drugs to treat livestock. While banned in neighbouring vulture range states, the use of diclofenac and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) by local farmers and government veterinary clinics in Myanmar to treat livestock is a severe threat to the remaining vulture populations in Myanmar. The belief that the use of vulture bones as a cure for multiple ailments is an additional threat to these species.  

Three Critically Endangered vultures—White-rumped Vulture, Slender-billed Vulture, and Red-headed Vulture—occur in the Indawgyi Lake Wildlife Sanctuary, a UNESCO biosphere reserve in the Kachin state of Myanmar. Surveys at Indawgyi suggest that vulture populations have declined between 2001 and 2020. Local organisations have initiated awareness campaigns to engage veterinarians, pharmacists and livestock owners about the impacts of NSAIDs on vulture populations.  

The alarming declines from surveys show there is an urgent need to understand how NSAIDs are being used throughout the critical Indawgyi landscape and how to catalyse effective conservation for these three ASAP vulture species. Additionally the military coup in 2021 and the withdrawal of donors, exerted funding pressures on local civil society, including BANCA. 

The project

In line with the Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction (SAVE) Blueprint and Myanmar Vulture Conservation Action Plan 2019-2024, Birdlife International (Asia) and BANCA will focus on:  

  • Improving the understanding of the use of NSAIDs in villages in the Indawgyi landscape 
  • Supporting advocacy efforts to eliminate the use of NSAIDs which will form the basis of future advocacy efforts to seek a national ban  

Through these efforts, vulture-safe zones can be identified to protect these threatened birds of prey amidst this period of political instability. 

Project reports

Project reports will be added here

Photo credit: Wild-CER

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