Contrary to the claims of the departments of wildlife and animal husbandry that the recent peacock deaths in the Aravalis were due to heat stroke, doctors at the Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Hisar, have confirmed that the birds died due to a contagious and fatal disease — Newcastle Disease Virus (NDV).
The disease is commonly found in poultry birds.
As many as 10 peacocks had died mysteriously at Kasan village, adjoining the Industrial Model Township (IMT), Manesar, in the second week of July. A dozen more were also found dead at Hasanpur village on June 10.
The wildlife authorities had stated that the peacocks had died due to ‘heat-stroke’.
However, HT through a news item had raised doubts over the ‘heat-stroke’ claims of the authorities.
“We had collected faeces, oral and nasal discharges from the birds kept at the People for Animal (veterinary hospital) at Sadhrana and found traces of NDV virus,” said Dr NK Mahajan, senior disease investigation officer (poultry) at the Hisar-based university.
“This virus spreads quickly among birds making them blind and motionless before killing them. The virus spreads through the air and shared grains eaten by birds,” Mahajan added. When the peacock deaths took place at Kasan village, the authorities had initially denied the same.
However, a probe team was constituted after HT raised the issue with the wildlife department in Panchkula.
Due to being less informed, villagers had buried the peacock carcasses “fearing they would be eaten by dogs and cats,” whereas peacocks come under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act-1972 and can only be buried by the wildlife department.
Meanwhile, the wildlife department is planning to vaccinate NDV-affected peacocks recuperating in hospitals before releasing them in the wild.
Last week, around 30 peacocks died mysteriously in Greater Noida.