Rajasthan/ Poisoning of saltwater or toxin could have led to mass death of birds in Sambhar Lake; 10,000 fowls perish in 15 days

  • Government officials claim – 4800 birds died; the team of experts including the Principal Secretary, Collector arrived on spot to take stock of situation
  • Government’s response in High Court- Migratory birds could have died due to viral infection, mutual conflict, hunger or pollution.

Jaipur: Indigenous and migratory birds continue to die at Sambhar, the largest saltwater lake of Rajasthan. About 10,000 birds have died in 15 days. 

The magnitude of the situation can be gauged from the fact that birds are being buried in the ground by digging pits with JCB during the last three days. Many dead birds have started rotting in the mud. Due to this, the health of other birds is also getting affected.

Avian Botulism led to death of birds: Prof. AK Kataria of Bikaner Apex Center for Animal Diseases also reached Sambhar on Friday morning. He speculated that paralyzing symptoms in birds’ feathers could also be the cause of death. It may be due to avian botulism, a serious neuromuscular illness of birds caused by a toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium.

“Symptom of paralyzes in wings suggest the death of birds could be due to Avian Botulism. This disease is caused due to exposure to bacteria caused by dead birds or by eating food. After falling prey to this disease, the birds are unable to walk and fly which leads to their death,” he said.

Earlier on Thursday, several senior officers and experts, including the Chief Wildlife Warden, reached the spot. They said 4800 birds have died. According to bird experts who reached the spot the number is 10,000.

Deaths due to viral infection: Taking cognizance of the death of the birds on Wednesday, the High Court sought an answer from the state government. The government presented the reply in the High Court on Thursday. The death of migratory birds was attributed to other causes including viral and bacterial infections. Not getting enough food during the long journey, pollution and weakness have also been cited as the probable causes of the death of birds.

Chief Minister said- open another rescue center: Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot took a review meeting on Thursday night in this matter. He investigated the causes of death and ordered officials to take effective steps. Also said that open another rescue center to save birds and dispose of dead birds scientifically so that infection does not spread.

3 possible causes of bird death

  • The birds that died initially are buried in the marshes and have got maggots (insects). Other birds die after eating them. Bird flu is not the cause of bird deaths.
  • The incident occurred due to intoxication caused by an excessive amount of sodium in water. The forest department does not even have experts, labs and resources.
  • Water had not reached in the area of ​​the lake for a long time where deaths have taken place. So the salt became very concentrated. When the water came in during rains the salt turned poisonous. This reason has been given by an expert panel. The panel consists of Harshavardhan (birding for 40 years), Raj Chauhan (birding for 32 years), Dinesh Durrani (senior bird guide), Sudhir Garg (birding expert), Rohit Gangwal, (Distinct Coordinator of Animal Welfare Board of India).

Shreya Guha, Principal Secretary, Forest-Environment, said collectors of Jaipur, Nagaur and Ajmer have been instructed to remove the dead bodies of birds from the water. A team of SDRS will also be deployed.