In 2004 the World Conservation Union placed three vultures—the long-billed, the slender-billed and the Oriental white-backed—on the critically endangered list. Populations of all three reached nearly 40 million in India and South Asia in the early 1990s but had fallen by more than 97 percent. The reasons for saving these vultures from extinction could be framed in familiar terms: we have an ethical obligation to save the world’s biodiversity for its own sake. But the reasons could also be outlined in a less familiar way.