Potential exposure to diclofenac in Spain of European vultures
Diclofenac (NSAID) for veterinary use, the same that previously reduced south Asian Gyps vulture populations by nearly 99% in the late 1990s, was approved in Spain in 2013 for cattle, swine and horses. We assessed its availability and the potential exposure to European Griffon Gyps fulvus, Cinereous Aegypius monachus, Egyptian Neophron percnopterus and Bearded vultures Gypaetus barbatus in Spain. In 2014, a telephone questionnaire to 1073 official pharmaceutical distributers (POS) found 230 responses and 82 were currently selling diclofenac. The preliminary assessment for Spain showed a widespread exposure to diclofenac that extends across 275,391 km2, i.e. 54% of the territory. Diclofenac availability is related to livestock densities and certain rearing practices, especially cattle and extensive swine farming, but not with horse farms. Livestock farming carcass disposal practices and subsequent carcass availability to vultures are of concern when controlling for diclofenac potential use and residues in corpses. Overlap of diclofenac exposure with vulture distribution ranges and population sizes per region were highest for Cinereous Vulture (88% and 73% overlap with range and population size respectively), 62/56% for the Egyptian Vulture, 58/57% for the Griffon and 42/36% for the Bearded Vultures. Ensuring the safety of carcasses consumed by vultures with specific tests for NSAIDs and their use in farming practices is required.