Every year, the first Saturday of September is International Vulture Awareness Day, a day highlighting the importance of vulture conservation.
In India, conservationists in the Western Ghats Region associate vultures with life, rather than death. Four species of vultures – white backed vulture, Indian vulture, red-headed vulture and Egyptian vulture – can be found in Tamil Nadu where local NGO Arulagam is working to establish a vulture safe zone, an area where no cattle carcasses have veterinary drugs that are harmful to vultures, including diclofenac.
Diclofenac has traditionally been used to treat cattle, but it causes renal failure and visceral gout in vultures, ultimately leading to their death. In 2006, diclofenac was banned, but many forest department officials and veterinarians in Tamil Nadu were unaware and continued prescribing the drug.
With support from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), Arulagam worked with Saving Asia's Vultures from Extinction (SAVE), Care Earth Trust, Malabar Natural History Society, Tamil Nadu Forest Department, Oriental Bird Club, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Government of Tamil Nadu's Hill Area Development Programme to establish a vulture safe zone in the Mysore-Nilgiri-Sathyamangalam landscape.