Thousands of migratory birds die in Sambhar Lake in Rajasthan

Thousands of migratory birds die in Sambhar Lake in Rajasthan

Thousands of migratory birds of about 15 species were found dead around Sambhar Lake, the country’s largest inland saltwater lake about 80 Km from Rajasthan State’s capital Jaipur, sending shock waves across locals and authorities.

The dead birds include a number of different species, including migratory birds who flock to the lake every year. These species include Ruddy Shelduck, Ruddy turnstone, Northern Shoveller, Blackwinged Stilt, Common Coot. There are also a few local species that have died. Most of these have been found around Ratan Talab, a section of the lake. The dead birds are being buried in deep pits around the lake.

We have never seen anything like this

Abhinav Vaishnav, a local bird-watcher, told PTI

Though the official toll reported is 1,500, locals claimed the number of dead birds could be as high as 5,000.

Cause of Death of Birds

Photo Credit: PTI

Officials are yet to ascertain the cause of the deaths but suspect that the reason was a hailstorm that hit the area a few days ago.  A medical team from Jaipur has collected a few carcasses, while water samples are being sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Disease Centre, in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, for further examination. They are awaiting the viscera test reports.

We are also looking at other possibilities like toxicity of the water, bacterial or viral infection

Forest Range Officer, Rajendra Jakhar told PTI

Sanjay Kaushik, Assistant Conservator of Forests, Dudu, said the water samples from the lake had been collected for examination, while the investigation had focused on the presence of some pollutant in the lake or infection among some birds that could have spread.

At initial examination we did not find any sort of secretion from the birds, which is a giveaway in the cases of bird flu

Veterinary doctor Ashok Rao

This is the second such incident in the state within a week. Last Thursday, 37 demoiselle cranes were found dead in Jodhpur’s Khinchan area. Their viscera too have been sent for investigation and reports are awaited.

Video by DowntoEarth

Sambhar lake is India’s biggest inland saltwater lake, spreading between 190 to 230 sq km and is located in Jaipur district of Rajasthan. It is a recognised wetland of international importance and attracts a host of migratory birds. Every year, the lake hosts approximately 2-3 lakh birds, which include about 50,000 flamingos and 1,00,000 waders.

But in recent years development activities, especially extension of salt pan operations, settlement and weather changes have led to lesser number of migratory birds coming to the lake.