Authorities in Indore have shifted 150 semi-feral geese and ducks from Sirpur Lake to Boat Club at Pipliyapala Park after HT published a report in November that these birds were agents of bird flu.
Sirpur Lake hosts over 150 species of resident and migratory birds.
The action by Indore Municipal Corporation and Indore Zoo comes after noted ornithologist Satish Pande urged them to immediately remove semi-feral geese, ducks and pigs from the water body. Pande is associated with National Institute of Virology’s bird flu monitoring programme since 2004.
Nihar Parulekar, the curator and education officer of Indore Zoo, said they completed the exercise in two days.
Bhalu Mondhe, the president of The Nature Volunteers, “We had written to the concerned authorities and shared Pande’s concerns. We are happy that the wild birds of Sirpur are safe. I would request that these birds be quarantined and the pigs be removed, too.”
Pande congratulated the civic body and the zoo for taking prompt action. He said semi-feral geese and ducks should not be kept in a public place because of the strong possibility of passing on bird flu to humans and also to dry poultry through bridge species of birds like crows as happened recently at Jamshedpur.
“In December 2014, Sukhna Lake in Chandigarh had to be closed to the public because of outbreak of bird flu (H5N1) in semi feral geese. Similarly sites like Rajghat in New Delhi had to be closed to the public this year because of outbreak of the H5N8 variant of bird flu in semi-feral geese,” Pande said.
“The need of the hour is standard operating procedures and guidelines for wet poultry management in consultation with experts. The government is serious about this. Local bodies and organisations across the nation should cooperate,” said Pande, the founder of Ela Foundation that is devoted to nature education and conservation.