The strange episode has left villagers and people of the forest department baffled for the lack of a sensible explanation.
More than 1,500 migratory birds died near Rajasthan’s saltwater lake Sambhar.
Thousands of migratory birds of about 10 species were found dead around Sambhar Lake. Sambhar Lake is the country’s largest inland saltwater lake near Jaipur, sending shock waves among locals and authorities.
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Is It Due To Water Contamination?
Jaipur district veterinary doctor, Dr. Ashok Kumar, said prima facie it seems to be a case of water contamination but clarity will come only when the viscera investigation reports come. The viscera have been sent to a laboratory in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh for tests.
Total Counts and Species
At least 1,500 migratory birds, spanning 9-10 species were found dead around the Sambhar lake in Jaipur district of Rajasthan over the past fortnight, forest officials said, adding that the exact cause of the deaths will be known once the reports of their viscera samples come by the end of the week.
Where Is Sambhar Salt Lake?
Sambhar salt lake is located 80 km southwest of the city of Jaipur and 64 km northeast of Ajmer, Rajasthan. It surrounds the historical Sambhar Lake Town. And is India’s largest inland salt lake. The lake receives water from five rivers Medtha, Samaod, Mantha, Rupangarh, Khari, and Khandela. Sambhar Salt Lake is India’s largest saline lake and is the source of most of Rajasthan’s salt production. It produces 196,000 tonnes of clean salt every year, which is around 9% of India’s salt production.
Ecological Importance Of Sambhar Lake
It is a recognized wetland of international importance and is a key wintering area for tens of thousands of birds. This wetland is a key wintering area for tens of thousands of pink flamingos and other birds that migrate from northern Asia and Siberia. The specialized algae and bacteria growing in the lake provide striking watercolors and support the lake ecology that, in turn, sustains the migrating waterfowl. There is other wildlife in the nearby forests, where Nilgai moves freely along with deer and foxes.
Veterinary Department On Migratory Birds Death
Ashok Rao, a veterinary doctor, and part of the team said that while the exact reason for the deaths was uncertain, he ruled out the possibility of bird flu.
At the initial examination, we did not find any sort of secretion from the birds, which is a giveaway in the cases of bird flu.
Dr. Ashok Rao (Veterinary Department)
RG Ujjwal, nodal officer, animal husbandry department, joined Ashok Rao and listed possible reasons behind the mysterious calamity.
There could be some sort of contamination in the water. The increased salinity of the water could also be another reason, as it increases salt concentration in the blood, which can further lead to slow blood flow and the internal organs like the brain may stop working.
Dr. R. G. Ujjwal (Nodal Officer, Animal Husbandry Department, Jaipur)
Officials On Migratory Birds Dead
The reason behind the deaths can be bird flu or the presence of a pollutant. We have taken samples of the water as well to ascertain the cause of the deaths.
Sanjay Kaushik (Assistant Conservator Of Forest)
Kumar dismissed the possibility of the birds dying because of a virus saying there were no such symptoms. He said about 1000 birds were found dead.
We have sent officials to spot and also getting other sites checked where the migratory birds arrive in winter.
Arindam Tomar (Rajasthan’s Chief Wildlife Warden)
He added that the carcasses have been disposed of.
Forest ranger Rajendra Jakhar said a possible reason could be the hailstorm that hit the area a few days back. “We estimate about 1,500 birds of about 10 species have died. We are also looking at other possibilities like toxicity of the water, bacterial or viral infection,”
Locals and Nearby People On Died Migratory Birds
As per the official, the count of dead birds is near to 1,500. However, locals claimed the number of dead birds could be as high as 5,000.
Locals and birders reported the first death of birds at Sambhar about a fortnight ago and officials said that since then, there have been regular reports of birds being found dead.
We have never seen anything like that. Over 5,000 birds died mysteriously all over the place
Abhinav Vaishnav (A 25 Year Old Bird Watcher and Nearby Resident)
The incident comes four days after 37 Demoiselle Cranes, also migratory, were found dead at Khichan in Phalodi area of Jodhpur. The viscera reports of the cranes are awaited.
This year the migratory birds arrived a month earlier, not just in Sambhar Lake, but at other places also such as Bharatpur. The deaths of birds could also be a case of early migration and inhospitable climatic conditions. It cannot be an epidemic as the number of deaths would have been much higher (in that case).
A senior forest official who spoke on condition of anonymity
While clarity will emerge with the reports of viscera samples, such incidents are not frequent. “The incident is alarming and we need to find out why happened to prevent its recurrence in the future. The migratory species that arrived at Sambar Lake are very common and found in several other wetlands. Their presence in large numbers indicated that they found the area conducive. The incident in Khichan seems to be related to the use of pesticides by farmers
According to forest department officials, the species found dead were Pallas Gulls, Gull-billed Terns, Black-winged Stilts, Kentish Plovers, Pied Avocets, Northern Shovelers, Ruddy Shelducks, and a few others.
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