Civic workers prepare to bury birds, which were found dead at the Sambhar Salt Lake in Rajasthan, on November 12.(Photo: PTI)
Civic workers prepare to bury birds, which were found dead at the Sambhar Salt Lake in Rajasthan, on November 12.(Photo: PTI)

Death toll of migratory birds at Rajasthan lake crosses 4,000

As many as 1,991 carcasses of 13 species of birds were discovered and buried, said Rajasthan’s chief conservator of forests Arindam Tomar.
By Sachin Saini | Hindustan Times, Sambhar
UPDATED ON NOV 14, 2019 02:21 AM IST

Scientists from the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and forest department officials found and buried hundreds of carcasses of migratory birds at India’s biggest inland salt lake, Sambhar (Rajasthan) on Wednesday, taking the four-day count of avian deaths in the area to 4,330.

As many as 1,991 carcasses of 13 species of birds were discovered and buried, said Rajasthan’s chief conservator of forests Arindam Tomar. He did not rule out the possibility of a substantial increase in the number of deaths because several areas around the large lake are yet to be scoured.

Since Sunday, 4,330 birds belonging to 25 different species have died in the area, and the reason for the deaths remains a mystery.

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot tweeted: “State government has taken all necessary steps to first find out what is causing the loss of avian lives and also to take immediate steps to prevent deaths during this migratory season. Protecting flora and fauna remains one of our top priorities.”

He said a ground level assessment was that because of heavy rains in Sambhar, many new water bodies have been formed, raising saline levels and causing water toxicity. Once investigations are complete, the government will do “everything possible” to prevent bird deaths, he added.

The CM said that water samples have been taken and sent for testing. The viscera from the carcasses have been sent to Bhopal for testing for bird flu, he said, adding that toxicologists have also been called from the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, and the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Coimbatore.

Apart from sending 35 birds to the Phulera rescue centre, the department has already sent sick birds to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bareilly, for medical examination, said Rajendra Singh Jhakar, range forest officer of the Dudu area.

The deaths of the birds on Sunday was discovered and reported by volunteers of a non-government organization.

“We had come here to watch birds and spotted some carcasses. When we scanned the area, we found a large number of dead birds, after which we reported it to the forest department,” said the NGO’s Dinesh Yadav, who claimed that it was the first time that so many bird deaths had taken place in the lake area.

Yadav said although the cause of bird deaths was not known, flamingos have not been affected. An expert from BHNS, who didn’t want to be identified, said most of the birds that had died were found to be northern shovelers, a a medium-sized duck variety that migrates to India in winter.

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