AMMAN — The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) convened a workshop on the deadly impact of diclofenac medicine on endangered eagles in Jordan
diclofenac is an anti-inflammatory medicine which local veterinarians and pharmacists prescribe to cure cattle, camels, and cows. It is manufactured and imported largely in Jordan under different trademarks, according to Tariq Al-Qaneer, director of the RSCN’s Bird Project Department.
Wednesday’s meeting was sponsored by the RSCN through the Egyptian Vulture New LIFE project, which is funded by the EU and the Migratory Soaring Birds project, which in turn is funded by the Global Environment Facility. Projects are executed by the UN Development Program, and Birdlife International Company.
Fadi Al-Naser, the RSCN’s director-general, said Jordan’s geographical location “is an important immigration point for birds in the region”.
“The RSCN conducted many programs with different partners to protect migratory birds by issuing booklets and brochures; including the National Guide for Hunters,” he told Jordan News.
the timing of the workshop is perfect in light of the current challenges affecting the nature. He said the RSCN “is always willing to cooperate with various bodies to protect nature”.
Ibrahim Khader, regional director of Birdlife International Company, said “the timing of the workshop is perfect in light of the current challenges affecting the nature.”
Khader said the quality of birds “is a strong indicator of the biodiversity quality”, pointing out that “despite the technological improvement, risks still persist.”
He explained that hunting is very common in the region, where millions of birds are killed each year due to different reasons.
One of the reasons, Khader said, is the use of “diclofenac which exists in the bodies of dead animals, which eagles feed upon”.
The medicine was banned in several countries, including India and Iran. “We are trying our best to ban the medicine in Jordan too, since there are many substitutes to it in the local market,” Khader said.
Qaneer said the RSCN was not aware that the diclofenac existed in Jordan until a letter from Yemen “informed us that migratory eagles coming from Jordan died when they arrived in Yemen with Diclofenac in their system”.
Qaneer noted that the more dead eagles, the more stray dogs spread and feed on dead animals, leading to the spread of serious infectious diseases, including anthrax, rabies and cholera.
India spent billions of dollars for 15 years to cure rabies caused by the medicine, according to Qaneer, who added that during that timeframe, the number of eagles in India decreased from 40 million to 11,000 because they were killed by Diclofenac.
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature “there are 23 types of eagles around the world, of which 11 are endangered,” Qaneer explained.
Neophron percnopterus, fulvus, and Aegypius monachus are the types of eagles which exist in Jordan, Qaneer said. He pointed out that eagles are poisoned due to unintentional reasons such as insecticides, colliding with power lines, and overgrazing, among others.
We are trying our best to ban the medicine in Jordan too, since there are many substitutes to it in the local marketLast month, the RSCN worked with the Irbid Electricity Company on a project to insulate power lines in the Al-Ukaider area to prevent the electrocution of the globally-endangered species of white storks, and to reduce power fluctuations and unscheduled outages caused by these birds.
The RSCN identified Al-Ukaider as a high-risk area for bird electrocution, when perched on medium-voltage power lines. The society’s studies also revealed that these birds build their nests and rest on electricity poles, posing a threat to a variety of species, particularly the white stork and birds of prey.
Qaneer said that the RSCN recommended banning the use of Diclofenac and other harmful medicines in Jordan and substituting them with medicines that have positive effects, such as Meloxicam and Tolfenamic. He said that scientific studies are underway to follow up on the impact of these medicines.
Reem Al-Rewis, a participant at the workshop who works at the Ministry of Health’s Public Health and Environment Directorate, said that “pharmacists should cooperate with the Veterinarian Syndicate to encourage using beneficial substitutes to diclofenac.”
Zaidoun Hijazeen, project officer for Animal Health at the Food and Drug Organization, said the One Health Concept should be adopted, through disciplined use of the medicines.
Hijazin, who also participated in the workshop, said that people who deal with medicines, birds, and animals “should be honest” in carrying out their work.
Workshop participants suggested ways to dispose of the bodies of dead animals, which included reducing the cost of transferring dead animals to landfills, and building crematoria to burn their bodies.
Additionally, they suggested drawing up a national plan with the authorities concerned and decision-makers to ban the use of Diclofenac, and to benefit from the international legislations in this regard. Other recommendations included adding guiding instructions on medication leaflets.
They also recommended holding regular conferences, cooperating with universities, conducting tests on dead animals, and evaluating the suggestions and recommendations economically and the possibility of applying them.