donderdag 31 maart 2016

There is an ecological disaster going on in India, which affects all layers of society in a dramatic way.
The reason? The vultures are dying in a terrible rate. In some areas each year the population is reduced at a rate of 50%! And the disease is spreading to Pakistan and Nepal.
These vultures have an important place in the “food-chain” of India. But there religious importance is also essential. A small, religious community in India (small for Indian circumstances, in this immense country, live more than one billion people) still follows the rules of Zoroaster, a 3000 year old Persian religious leader. One of this rules has to do with burial rites. After death the body must be given to the elements. The bodies are placed on high, wooden towers and the vultures do the rest. But in recent years, the bodies were not eaten, but rotted away. There were no more vultures, to do the dirty work.
Another role the vultures play role is by eating dead animals. Cadavers are thrown together, outside the village and the vultures finish the job. This natural cleaning stopped by lack of vultures. Their place in the eco-system was taken over by dogs. In a short time hundreds of dogs took over the place. They were not as effective as the vultures were. Many dogs suffered from rabies. They became very aggressive and often attack people. Not treated well, rabies leads to a certain death. To hunt down the dogs is a dangerous operation too and they are hard to catch.
Scientists have down a lot of research to find the cause for this plague. They had a hard time getting fresh samples of a dead vulture. But eventually no known disease was found, which was responsible for the disaster. Fortunately a new test proved, that the reason was not a disease. The vultures were slowly poisoned by the animal meat, they consumed. Certain additives to their diet, were fatal for the birds. These substances must be outlawed, which will take quite some time. Time the vultures don't have.


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