Thousands of migratory birds were found dead around Sambhar Lake, the country’s largest inland saltwater lake near Jaipur.
Officials said they suspect water contamination as one of the reasons for the deaths but were awaiting viscera test reports. Though the official toll was 1,500, locals claimed the number of dead birds could be as high as 5,000.
Ten species of birds, including plovers, common coot, black winged stilt, northern shovelers, ruddy shelduck, and pied avocet were scattered around the 13 kilometers of catchment area of the lake.
Forest ranger Rajendra Jakhar said a possible reason could be the hailstorm that hit the area a few days back.
“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,” he said.
A team of experts collected samples of a few carcasses and water samples which are being sent to Bhopal for further examination.
A veterinary doctor, Ashok Rao ruled out the possibility of bird flu. “At initial examination we did not find any sort of secretion from the birds, which is a giveaway in the cases of bird flu,” he said.
The lake is also a favourite of flamingos, stilts, stints, garganey, gulls and a number of other species of birds.
The lake hosts approximately 2-3 lakh birds, which include about 50,000 flamingos and 1,00,000 waders.
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.