Hindus worship sacred animals and will not kill or eat them since they are servants or manifestations of their gods. When an animal becomes old or sick to the point of death, they give it an analgesic to deaden the animal's pain and suffering. This laudable spiritual practice has a horrid side effect however, and illustrates the Law of Unintended Consequences
. When people give their animals the drug diclofenac
to ease their suffering, and the animal subsequently dies, it is carrion for vultures. The vulture eats the carcass which has a low concentration of the drug in its tissues. The birds die shortly afterwards from what is likely renal failure. 99.9% of the oriental white-rumped vulture
population has ceased to exist, and two other vulture populations have crashed about 97%. A partial drug ban is in place and the vulture populations are showing some signs of recovery
. The death of all of these vultures has caused a major ecological problem. The feral dog population has increased resulting in an additional 50,000 human deaths a year from rabies
. The leopard population has increased since the cats feed on the dogs. The lack of vultures has also made the disposal of bodies via Towers of Silence
a useless custom to Zoroastrian believers who now must bury or cremate their dead. So, alleviating a little suffering can cause a lot more suffering if not done properly.
Labels: unintended consequences