More than 10,000 birds, most of them migratory, were found dead near Rajasthan’s Sambhar Lake over the last one week. According to a preliminary forensic report, the cause of the mysterious deaths of migratory birds could botulism, a serious and fatal illness that affects the nerves.
A 70-member disaster management team is at Sambhar Lake, located near Jaipur is India's largest inland saltwater lake, to dispose of the carcasses so that botulism does not spread to other birds. The Sambhar Lake is a key wintering area for tens of thousands of migratory birds.
"Veterinary experts from Rajasthan University of Veterinary & Animal Sciences, Bikaner, have indicated that the deaths occurred due to botulism," news agency PTI quoted principal secretary (forest) Sreya Guha as saying.
Jaipur District Collector Jagroop Singh Yadav said that a sample has been sent to a Coimbatore laboratory to check the heavy metal toxicity in the lake and the report on this is awaited. Yadav said that experts from Bikaner University have said the birds died due to botulism and not from avian flu as suspected earlier.
"The birds died due to infection spread after feeding on maggots-infested carcasses. This causes paralysis in birds. The symptoms indicate that the cause of death was botulism," he said. Several teams from the Animal Husbandry Department are closely monitoring the situation.
On November 10, thousands of birds, including Northern Shoveler, Ruddy Shelduck, Plovers, Avocets, were found were found dead in the 5-7 km area around Sambhar Lake. This was the second such incident in the state within a week.