At least 47 migratory birds, 36 of them coots and 9 common moorhen, were found dead at Sultanpur National Park near Gurgaon on Saturday morning. The forest and wild life department has shut down the park for one week and put up a notice at the main gate to inform tourists.
Coots and common moorhen are birds from Europe and are among the 40,000 migratory birds of 35 different varieties that have flocked to Sultanpur this winter.
In preliminary investigation, the deaths have not been attributed to bird flu. “Prima facie, the deaths could have happened after the birds ate some pesticide-laced crop in a nearby field. Since these birds move in flocks, it is possible the entire group died at once,” said Kulwinder Singh, the district forest officer of Gurgaon. “In the case of bird flu, the legs of birds develop red spots. But none of the 47 which died had these spots,” he explained.
Three teams from the animal husbandry department collected samples from the dead birds and sent them to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal to test for any possibility of bird flu. The report is expected in three-to-five days,” said a forest official.
A senior official at the national park said, “In recent past, we have never encountered deaths in such high numbers.”
According to the sanctuary officials, employees have been directed to keep a close eye on birds — especially the species that were found dead at Sukhna Lake in Chandigarh — to monitor their activities. The forest department has also installed four CCTV cameras at Sultanpur Lake to monitor the movement of these migratory birds.