T K NANDANAN, KOCHI
IT is very sad to learn that as many as 1500 migratory birds of over a dozen species have been found dead in Sambhar Lake, the country’s largest inland saltwater lake near Jaipur. Officials said they suspected water contamination as one of the reasons for the deaths but were awaiting viscera test reports. The carcasses of hundreds of birds, including plovers, common coots, black-winged stilts, northern shovelers, ruddy shelducks and pied avocets, were scattered along the edges of a 12-13 km stretch of the lake’s catchment area. Such a large number of deaths of these migratory birds are one of the rarest cases in the recent history. Medical reports will throw light on the cause of death of the birds. A medical team from Jaipur had collected a few carcasses and water samples for examination. Ashok Rao, a veterinary doctor who was part of the investigation team, ruled out the possibility of bird flu saying no secretion had been found. Other possibilities like toxicity of the water and bacterial or viral infection are being looked into. A few days ago, a hailstorm had hit the area, which could also be a possibility for the cause of birds’ deaths. Whatever be the cause, the authorities must take utmost care to ensure that the migratory birds get a safe environment. Birds form a major part of the earth’s ecosystem. The migratory birds are mainly coming from Siberia and Europe as harsh winter has already set in there. These birds migrate to India every year during winter season for food, breeding and nesting. After passing of winter when India starts getting hotter, they again migrate to cooler areas. There are numerous places in India, where these birds flock during the winter months, making them their temporary homes. The major bird sanctuaries like Lake Chilika in Odisha, Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary in Gujarat, Sundarban National Park in West Bengal, Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary in Kerala, Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh etc are indeed temporary homes to migratory birds. Authorities must take necessary steps to make the environment clean and unpolluted to welcome these winged guests.