A HAILSTORM STRUCK a flock of migratory demoiselle cranes, killing 56 of them and maiming 17 others while they were foraging on an agricultural field in Bhachau taluka of Kutch district on Thursday, forest officers said.
Officers of Kutch (east) forest division said the incident was reported from Baniari village in Bachau taluka of Kuch district. “The flock was apparently foraging on an agricultural field on the border of Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary when it was hit by a hailstorm on Thursday evening. The area was pounded by hails of very large sizes, killing 56 demoiselle cranes and injuring 17 others,” PA Vihol, deputy conservator of forests of Kutch (east) forest division told The Indian Express on Friday.
Vihol said that the flock was foraging in a field which was lying open after a farmer had completed harvest of jowar crop. The field, the DCF further said, was hardly 250 metres away from the border of the sanctuary.
“We have shifted the 17 injured birds to our nursery in Bhachau town for treatment,” said Vihol.
Kutch was hit by sporadic thundershowers and hailstorms on Wednesday and Thursday. Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary is a major roosting place of migratory common cranes and demoiselle cranes as well as being home to greater and lesser flamingos. Lakhs of common cranes migrate from central Asia and winter in Kutch. Vihol said that around one lakh common cranes had already been roosting at Chhari Dhand, a community reserve located inside Banni Grassland in western Kutch.
However, the DCF said that there were no reports of birds or wild animals having been adversely affected by the unseasonal rains and hailstorm. “After the incident of Baniari came to light, we have instructed our staff to check their respective areas and report to us any untoward incident. No adverse report has been received so far. Nor has anything untoward been reported from the Great Rann of Kutch where flamingos roost,” said Vihol.
The officer said that birds getting killed in hailstorm was not very common in Gujarat. “But at the same time, the rainfall in Kutch is also such not witnessed in last 10 years at least,” he added.