Death of over 1,000 migratory birds in India’s western Rajasthan province has sent shock waves across bird watchers who are unable to comprehend what led to the mass deaths.
Locals for the first time witnessed such an incident, Press Trust of India news agency reported on Wednesday.
On Nov. 10, locals in Sambhar area, 78.8 kilometers (49 miles) away from provincial capital Jaipur, saw dead birds piled up 5-7 km (3-4 mi) around the shores of India’s biggest inland saltwater lake, according to the report.
The lake assumes significance as it hosts thousands of migratory birds during winters.
Officials in the region identified the dead birds as Northern Shoveler, Ruddy Shelduck, Plovers, and Avocets. Locals claimed the number of dead birds is over 5,000.
Ashok Gehlot, chief minister of the province, said it was worrying for him to see such a huge number of deaths.
“Death of birds at Sambhar Lake is very worrying. State government has taken all necessary steps to find out what is causing loss of avian lives and also to take immediate steps to prevent deaths during this migratory season. Protecting flora & fauna remains one of our top priorities,” Gehlot said in a series of tweets on Wednesday.
The local government has mobilized machinery to investigate what led to the deaths. Officials suspected water contamination or algae poisoning to be possible causes.
Rajasthan, the western province of India bordering Pakistan, is in a high-dry, deserted region which also witnesses heavy rains during and after summer.
Government claimed that due to heavy rains, “a number of new water bodies have formed, raising saline level and causing toxicity”.
Another official said recent hailstorm that hit the area may be the reason behind the deaths.
“We estimate about 1,500 birds of about 10 species have died. We are also looking at other possibilities like toxicity of the water, bacterial or viral infection,” the official said.
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