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📸 by @joao.pedro.salgado

Vultures take advantage of a very not alive domestic cow.

Vultures are the unsung heroes of the natural world, they are absolutely vital to the healthy function of ecosystems as they keep them free of contagious diseases.

They are specially adapted to feeding on the carcasses of dead and decaying animals, which are often times infected with rabies, anthrax and botulism toxins.

These nasties would almost certainly kill any other animal they came into contact with, but they bow to the absolute brute-force corrosivity of the vultures stomach acid.

But just like the bass player in your favourite band or the defenceman on your favourite hockey team, the vultures true importance is only felt in their absence.

In the 90s, India experienced dramatic decline in their vulture population. The vultures were dropping like flies and no one knew why.

To compensate for the loss of this vital scavenger, the feral dog and rat populations exploded and the cases of human rabies infections mirrored this increase.

As you may have guessed, these new scavengers were not as efficient as the vultures and just ended up becoming carriers of the diseases/pathogens they consumed.

The sudden collapse of this natural animal disposal system had other effects as well.
The rising feral dog population attracted leopards from the surrounding forests and lead to an increase in human/leopard interaction.

Carcasses that would normally be consumed by the vultures were now left to rot in the fields for weeks, and they would eventually seep their way into the drinking water.

In all, the sudden absence of vultures resulted in thousands of human deaths and a monetary hit of roughly 34 billion dollars – most of that went to treating/containing the diseases.

The livestock anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac ended up being responsible for the severe decline in the vulture population, and has been banned in India since 2006.



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