Over 1500 Migratory Birds Found Dead Around Sambhar Lake, Botulism Suspected To Be The Cause
Close to 1500 migratory birds of nearly ten species were found dead around Sambhar Lake, the country’s largest inland saltwater lake near Jaipur on Monday, November 11. This is second such event said to have occurred in a short span of time. In Jodhpur’s Khinchan area, on Thursday, November 7, 37 demoiselle cranes were found dead.
Veterinarians had earlier suspected that water contamination or algae poisoning or hailstorm which hit the area a few days before the incident could be some of the reasons behind it. However, an initial forensic report suggests the reason behind the mass death to be avian botulism, a paralytic and oftten fatal disease which occurs when birds feed on toxic substances. Officials are still awaiting the viscera test reports which have been sent to a science laboratory in Bhopal.
The likelihood of bird flu has been ruled out. “It has been found that there is no contagious disease which can be transmitted from the birds dying in Sambhar to humans which could take the shape of outbreak of the disease. We have found that it is not an avian flu which we did not rule out earlier as a precaution,” Dr Ravi Prakash Sharma, additional director(rural health) was quoted as saying by The Times Of India.
The lake bed is an internationally known wetland, which is home to roughly 15 species of migratory birds which come visiting every year. The dead bodies were found on the edge of 12-13 km of the catchment area. Carcasses included plovers, common coot, black-winged stilt, northern shovelers, ruddy shelduck, and pied avocet.
Once the news spread, few officials from revenue and forest came down to witness and also buried 669 carcasses in a ditch on Monday, while many dead bodies were still lying around everywhere. The staff were hesitant and found it difficult to move in the muddy areas of the lake to collect the rest of the bodies.
Residents from the local villages have never seen such a strange episode, even the local forest officials lacked proper explanation. An officer said higher temperature and deep water because of the good rainy season can also lead to such mortality as birds are unable to eat properly after being exhausted by a long flight.
The wildlife sanctuary around Sambhar lake is approximately 22.5 km, which is separated by a huge stone reservoir. The eastern part of the lake has a dam for salt mining, saltpans and canals. It is also home to different avifauna like flamingoes, black-headed gull and Northern Shoveller, and about 45 species of water birds.