All posts in 04 CW | Community + Watershed

We humans have a critical connection to nature. Losing a species that lives in the wild can have dangerous consequences even for those who live in urban areas. An example of this would be the almost total disappearance of the vultures in India. In 1989, all but 1% of a native species of vultures had vanished due to a veterinary painkiller used on cows and buffalo. With India’s large Hindu population, cows and buffalo are used for work and dairy, but not often eaten. When they die, the animals are taken to “carcass dumps” across India.

These field “dumps” worked because, when vulture populations were large, they quickly stripped them to the bones. Vultures are living “environmental cleaners”. They have a digestive system with acids that neutralize most bacteria that causes a health hazard such as: anthrax, botulism, cholera and rabies, but this painkiller drug (still present in the carcasses) was lethal to them, even in small doses.

It took just a decade for the large vulture numbers to drop by over 98%. Without them, the carcasses rot in the fields, spread disease and contaminate water supplies. There are now 25 million feral dogs in India. More than half of the world’s deaths from rabies are occurring there due to these wild dogs and rats that are now eating the rotten flesh instead of the vultures.

Asian, US and European researchers worked for 10 years to find the problem’s source. Finally a group from Pakistan proved conclusively that the drug was lethal to the vultures. After a campaign to stop the drug, the Indian Government banned its use in animals. Due to the expense, farmers continued to buy it on the black market until the pharmaceutical company offered it’s replacement at cost.

There is a resilient solution to this serious problem. They are breeding and retraining the wild instincts of the vultures and for the first time in 20 years, their numbers are increasing. If support for these “environmental cleaners” continues to grow and the vulture population returns, the outcome could be a positive one. Nature can survive without us, but we cannot survive without it!

C3 Living Design | Creating, Connecting + Curating the Patterns of Life


Pattern Name:
Reduced Eco-Exposure to Pharmaceuticals

Pattern Purpose:
Control the exposure of pharmaceuticals to the ecosystems + creatures to reduce unintended negative impacts and better maintain living system vitality.

Basic Pattern Metrics + Attributes:
1. Exercise use of the Precautionary Principle when developing + testing Pharmaceuticals.
2. Control exposure and release of Pharmaceuticals into the environment and living systems.
3. Monitor the use and impacts of Pharmaceuticals across their entire life cycle from cradle to grave.


Source: EARTH A New Wild, a PBS program produced by National Geographic Studios in association
with Passion Planet, 2015


Panoramic Category
Nature + Environment (N)

Category Cascade
Life + Planet (LP)
People* + Products (PP)

Pattern Cascade
Predecessor Patterns:
#LP 300 | Health
#LP 500 | Ecosystem Services
#PP 500 | Sourcing of Raw Materials (Applies Conceptually)

This Pattern:
#PP515 | Pattern (Seed): Environmental Exposure to Pharmaceuticals (People* + Products – OF)

Successor Patterns:
#PP 725 | Green Procurement 
#PP 770 | Product Labeling

Library Details
Visit the C3LD Pattern Library by clicking HERE>

People* + Products (PP)
Nature + Environment (N)

C3LD Number    Pattern Name                         Source                       Pattern Link                 Note      
#PP515Eco-Exposure to PharmaceuticalsC3 Living DesignLink: This PostSeed