In India the vulture advocacy programme is spearheaded by Nita Shah of the Bombay Natural History Society. Nita is based in Delhi but travels widely in India and internationally in order to spread the message on vulture conservation. The programme was initiated in November 2004, with RSPB support and has received much of its further funding from the Global Environment Facility (UK Government, directed through British High Commission, Delhi). Since April 2007, RSPB has taken on full support to this crucially important programme. The main priority of the advocacy programme is to interact with the Indian Government senior officials, decision makers especially the Drug controller General of India, Ministries of Environment & Forests, Agriculture, Health (MoH), Commerce (MoC) and Chemical & Fertilizers (MoCF), facilitating their efforts to get an effective ban of veterinary diclofenac across the country. It is through sound interactions that prompt policy formulations have been taken to the advantage of the vultures and other species concerned. Interacting through the National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) is another key axis of activity.
The advocacy programme in India has produced diverse campaign materials in order to raise awareness on the vulture declines and impact of diclofenac. This work includes instigating radio spots in 13 Indian languages as an outreach medium to farming and veterinary communities in rural India. Vulture conservation through the traditional Indian string puppetry and the use of puppets is a powerful tool in telling the vulture story to rural communities. A campaign documentary film ‘Vanishing Vultures' was supported by the Global Environment Facility and produced by the BNHS Vulture Advocacy Program in association with Mike Pandey. All these tools of communication have been key elements in the process of getting the veterinary diclofenac manufacturing ban in 2006. Screening and distributing this film has been an important part of the Advocacy Programme's activities, and a very major achievement to orientate the message of the film so effectively. Other awareness activities include working with local farmers, paravets and pharmacists to educate them on the role of diclofenac, as well as attending meetings with Forestry Department Officials and Veterinary Teaching hospitals and conferences.
Advocacy and awareness in Nepal and internationally
Conservation advocacy work is also underway in Nepal and internationally in order to protect vulture populations across Asia and to prevent similar declines occurring in other regions of the world. For information on some of the advocacy and awareness activities undertaken in Nepal and around the world follow the line below
Some of the major achievements of the advocacy programme include:
March 2005 - National Board of Wildlife, chaired by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh gave a directive for veterinary diclofenac ban within a stipulated time frame.
January 2006 - International meeting organised by MoEF in Delhi with key BNHS and RSPB input and support. This formalised recommendations on the priority to ban diclofenac and for vulture conservation breeding centres. This resulted in an Indian Government Vulture Action Plan being produced in April 2006.
May 2006 - Drug Controller General of India issued directive to withdraw all licences to manufacture veterinary diclofenac within India by August 2006. Similar manufacturing bans followed suit in Nepal and Pakistan.
For a full list of the BNHS advocacy programme’s achievements in India follow this link.