Around 17,000 birds (majorly migratory birds) have been found dead till now at India’s biggest saltwater lake (Sambhar Salt Lake). According to the forest officials, the reason behind the death of the birds is ‘botulism’, an illness that attack the nerves.
Reports of death have also surfaced from Ajmer, Jaipur, and Nagpur districts as well. According to Arindam Tomar, Forest Department’s Chief Wildlife Warden ‘The death toll has increased to nearly 17,000’, earlier in the weekend the death toll was 10,000. This strange occurance has not only left the villagers but also the Forest Officials stumped.
A 70 member team was sent at the Sambhar Salt Lake to dispose off the carcasses of those dead birds so that botulism do not spread. According to Jagroop Singh Yadav, Jaipur’s Collector, almost all the carcasses have been disposed.
Out of 17,000 birds, close to 8,500 birds have been found dead in Jaipur alone according to Yadav. Earlier it was assumed that the reason behind the death of these birds is avian flu, but it was later ruled out by a laboratory in Bhopal after it conducted autopsy on the birds. The forest department now believes that the reason behind the sudden death of these birds was avian botulism, this illness is fatal and arises when a bird consumes toxic substances.
On the 10th of November, birds like Ruddy Shelduck, Northern Shoveler, Avocets, and Plovers were found dead in and around 5-7 kilometres of Sambhar Salt Lake. On 11th of November, officials drew out over 700 carcasses from the lake, on 12th the number increased to over 1,600, and on the 13th, 14th, and the 15th the number of carcasses that were taken out were 1,922, 540, and 3,265 respectively.
On the 13th of November, Ashok Gehlot, Rajasthan’s CM, said that the unforeseen death of the birds have raised concerns and the government will do all it takes to find out the reason behind it and to protect the flora and fauna.
On the 15th of November, Rajasthan’s High Court asked the Rajasthan government as to why the birds are dying and asked for the answer in the next hearing that will be held on 22nd of November.