The Rajasthan government has confirmed avian botulism, a bacterial disease as the reason behind the death of 17,000 migratory birds at Sambhar Lake, Jaipur. The deaths have been reported in Jaipur, Nagaur and Ajmer districts of Rajasthan. The carcasses have now been disposed of.
According to an NDTV report, Animal Husbandry Minister Lalchand Kataria confirmed avian botulism as the cause of death. “Avian botulism is the cause of the death of domestic and migratory birds in the Sambhar Lake. This has been confirmed by the Indian Veterinary Research Institute of Bareilly, whose report was received on Wednesday,” the minister said.
He also said that so far the state Animal Husbandry Department has treated 735 ailing birds, of which 368 were alive, while 36 had been released.
Sambhar Lake is India’s largest inland saltwater lake with 230 sq km of the area. It attracts thousands of migratory birds every year. Of the 83 species of water birds seen at the lake, 25-30 species have been found dead, including northern shoveller, Brahminy duck, pied avocet, Kentish plover and tufted duck.
The state government has also requested Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, for further investigation of sick birds. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said that the incident needs a scientific probe to ensure that such a situation doesn’t arise again.
There have been several other waterfowl botulism outbreaks earlier. Between 1995 and 1997 in Canada, around 1,00,000 birds died in Alberta, 1,17,000 in Manitoba, and a million in Saskatchewan. Another 5,14,000 birds died due to botulism in Green Salt Lake, Utah, US, in 1997. An epizootic outbreak in 1952 killed 4-5 million waterfowl across the western US.