Worried over water birds’ safety in Indore’s Sirpur and Yashwant Sagar lakes, Pune-based Ela Foundation founder president and eminent ornithologist Dr Satish Pande has urged the district administration to immediately remove semi-feral geese, ducks and pigs from those water bodies, saying any bird flu outbreak may infect geese first.
Presently in Indore to conduct the state’s first-ever basic ornithology course in association with city-based NGO The Nature Volunteers (TNV), Dr Pande was terribly disturbed to find pigs, semi-feral geese and ducks at Sirpur lake during his field visit to the water body along with course participants. Pande’s Ela Foundation has been working with the National Institute of Virology for the bird flu monitoring programme for the last 12 years.
Dr Pande said presence of semi-feral geese and ducks along with pigs is a big source of worry as they are mixing vessels for bird flu virus which mutates in pigs and is passed onto semi-feral geese and ducks and from them to other wild and domestic birds thus causing a huge disaster. It happened at Delhi Zoo and in rural areas of Kerala, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Odisha, he added.
“During our trip, we identified 46 species of birds in a short span of time. How many cities in India have sites like this? Similarly Yashwant Sagar lake is an important bird area and one of the few habitats of the Sarus cranes. I am told many semi-feral geese and ducks have been released there too. I am worried the Sarus and other wild birds will be lost if timely action is not taken. I am sure the Indore Municipal Corporation will take timely action,” said Dr Pande.
The ornithologist expressed happiness over the fact that Indore is among the few cities in India which have such a large urban lake and where 150 species of birds have been recorded.
He said geese and ducks confiscated by the authorities should never be released in lakes and should be kept under observation in separate enclosures. If bird flu virus infects birds at Sirpur or Yashwant Sagar lake, the possibility of poultry birds getting infected can’t be ruled out, he added.
TNV president and environmentalist Bhalu Mondhe has also appealed to the district administration to take necessary and timely actions to ensure the safety of wild birds at the district’s two lakes.