Toxicity Assessment on the Levels of Select Metals in the Critically Endangered Indian White-backed Vulture, Gyps bengalensis, in India
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To assess the potential contribution of metals to the catastrophic population decline of the White-backed Vulture, Gyps bengalensis, their concentrations in various organs was quantified. Liver, kidney, pectoral muscle, gut contents and femur bone were collected from dead birds between 1999 and 2008. These samples were analysed for lead, cadmium, copper and zinc, which were detected in all organs with no significant variation among tissues or between sexes. Moreover, high lead levels in liver (8.56 µg/g wet weight) and kidney (9.31 µg/g wet weight) in some individuals indicate toxic effects. Nonetheless, the levels of most metals measured in the present study may be considered as normal.
KeywordsIndian White-backed Vulture Population decline Metal contamination
The authors express their sincere gratitude to the forest officials of the states, namely Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Punjab for permitting collection of vulture carcasses. Mr. Raghul Sehgal and Mr. Karthick Sastry, Ahmedabad are thanked for their efforts in collecting the samples. Dr. VS Vijayan, Founder Director, Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Coimbatore is duly acknowledged for his support. Dr. Gary Heinz Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, USA, needs special mention is thanked for his valuable comments on the manuscript. Mr. Patturajan is appreciated for assisting in the laboratory.
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