Let’s Hear It for the Birds

Almost-extinct vultures may be making a comeback within the Parsi community of Mumbai, India, after a pain reliever (diclofenac) nearly wiped it out. Parsi’s Zoroastrian religion requires “natural” body disposals (no cremation or burial) of humans and cattle, and bodies have always been ritually laid out for hungry birds, but the community has come to rely on diclopfenac in hospitals and for cattle. When NOTW last mentioned this (in 2001), vultures were dying out from kidney damage caused by the drug, and bodies were piling up. (Parsis were exploring using solar panels to burn corpses.) However, according to a November New York Times item, clerics are reporting modest success in weaning Parsis from diclofenac, and the vultures seem more plentiful.