Thousands of migratory birds belonging to an estimated 15 species were found dead in Rajasthan’s Sambhar Lake over the weekend, prompting the local administration and wildlife officials to reach the spot and collect samples. However, the cause has not been ascertained as yet, officials said.
The dead birds include the Northern Shoveller, Brahminy Duck, Pied Avocet, Kentish Plover and Tufted Duck, among others.
Jaipur Chief Conservator of Forests Arun Prasad said, “The birds belong to roughly 15 species. It has been happening for the last 3-4 days. We have collected the samples and sent them to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) in Bhopal, which will send a report in a few days.”
Prasad said that since the bird deaths could be due to a virus, local officials have been instructed to collect and dispose of the carcasses carefully. “We have asked them to wear proper clothing, including gloves and masks, and not to re-use them,” Prasad said.
Another official, who wished to remain unnamed, however said, “It doesn’t seem like it’s a virus. Birds are migrating earlier than usual, such as red crested pochard which were found in Bharatpur in mid-September — at least one-and-a-half month before their usual migratory time. However, the temperature here may still not be conducive for their survival and the weaker birds are dying. These seem like habitat-related deaths…”