Southern Africa Vulture Conservation:

Boehringer Ingelheim in association with VulPro, promotes the responsible use of veterinary anti-inflammatories in livestock and equine.

There are 22 species of vultures worldwide, 11 of these species occur on the African continent, and 9 are indigenous to Southern Africa. Following the discovery that a veterinary  anti-inflammatory drug, used in cattle was responsible for the drastic decline of three vulture species in South Asia, scientists continued to search for an alternative, vulture safe anti-inflammatory to be used in livestock.  South African research contributed significantly to this data. 

Researches at the University of Pretoria, Faculty of Veterinary Science, together with Kerri Wolter (founder of VulPro) played a key role in researching various veterinary anti-inflammatories and their toxic effects on vultures. The finding from this research was that Boehringer Ingelheim’s livestock and equine anti-inflammatory was proven to be safe for vultures, if directly administered the drug or if the vultures fed on a previously treated carcass.

As hundreds of vultures feed from a single carcass, an entire population can easily be wiped out if care is not taken.  A vulture restaurant is a conservation tool that provides safe food for vultures in areas where natural food sources have been reduced. There are currently 172 active vulture restaurants in South Africa. A large portion of these restaurants rely on the supply of horse, pig and cattle carcasses from the public and surrounding farms. Herein lays the possibility that one or more of the carcases may contain a toxic anti-inflammatory.

Boehringer Ingelheim’s anti-inflammatory for livestock and equine use, was registered in April 2012. Following the product launch, the Animal Health team at Boehringer Ingelheim were introduced to Kerri Wolter and learnt about her efforts in vulture conservation. This led to a strong association between Kerri and Boehringer Ingelheim, to promote the responsible use of anti-inflammatories, by veterinarians administering the drugs to livestock and horses. 

Boehringer Ingelheim in South Africa has provided VulPro with 4 tracking devices, used to collect data on the range and behaviour of captured and released vultures, which is used to identify "hot spots" for mitigation of dangerous power-lines, identify active vulture restaurants and feeding / foraging range as well as identify cause of mortality. 

Over the last 4 years this association has strengthened through our common goal to advocate the safe use of NSAIDs used to treat pain and inflammation in livestock and horses. VulPro, actively assists farmers with setting-up vulture restaurants on their farms (a project often involving both the farmer and their consulting veterinarian). In turn Boehringer Ingelheim, through our direct relationships with farmers and consulting veterinarians, promotes the efforts of VulPro in the field and provides a safe veterinary anti-inflammatory to treat their cows, pigs and even horses, with knowledge that should these animal carcases be donated to vulture restaurants, no ill effect to the environment will result. 

For more information on the vulture conservation efforts of VulPro go to