The mysterious death of over 1,200 migratory birds in a week at Himachal’s Pong Dam has rung an alarm among authorities. The authorities have suspended tourism in the area and ordered a probe into the cause of the mass bird deaths.
Initial reports into the incident have eliminated the possibility of poisoning, according to a report in the New Indian Express. The carcasses of the birds have been sent to Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Uttar Pradesh and Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Punjab for testing.
The Kangra district magistrate has issued an order under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, prohibiting human and livestock activity within one kilometre of Pong Dam and declared the stretch as an alert zone. Further, a 9-kilometre periphery around the dam reservoir is now a surveillance zone. The steps have been taken as a preventive measure as the administration has not ruled out the possibility of a disease.
Every winter, thousands of migratory birds from central and northern Asia arrive at the Pong Dam wetlands in Himachal Pradesh. Most of the birds that died are bar-headed geese, according to the wildlife authorities.
The unexplained death of birds in large numbers has been occurring frequently in different regions of the country.
Recently, in December last year, deaths of around 10,000 ducks were reported in the Kuttanad region of Kerala, triggering panic among farmers. The collected samples from the dead birds have been sent for testing and the reason of death is not yet known. Such mass deaths of ducks have been reported from Kerala earlier as well. In March last year, around 4,000 ducks died in upper Kuttanad due to bacterial infection. In September 2018, a similar incident took place in Kerala and the cause of the death of infection caused by an antibiotic-resistant bacterium.
In November 2019, around 18,000 migratory birds died around Sambhar Lake near Rajasthan’s Jaipur. The death of the birds at the country’s largest saltwater lake happened due to avian botulism, which is a neuro muscular disease caused by a toxin produced by certain bacteria.