BHUBANESWAR: Mysterious death of around 25 peacocks and a large number of other bird species, including pigeons, crows and cranes near Khurda, has sparked fears of bird flu outbreak in the State.
The birds were found lying dead near a water body at Madhupur village forest under Khurda Forest Division on Tuesday morning. Panicky villagers informed Forest officials of Khurda and Chandaka divisions, who rushed to the spot and recovered the carcasses.
Some carcasses have been sent to OUAT for preliminary examination. Samples would be sent to Animal Disease Research Institute (ADRI) of State Veterinary Department and National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSD), Bhopal, for determining the nature of deaths, Chandaka DFO Manoj Mohapatra said.
While the en masse death of birds of multiple species has raised alarm, the Forest department has prima facie indicated slim chances of poisoning, both deliberate or accidental. The peacocks were resident birds with the community tolerant to their presence since years. Besides, the birds had not created any nuisance like damaging crops.
There was also no tell-tale sign of poisoning substances on the ground even as water samples from the water body have been sent for testing. In the event of deliberate poisoning too such a large number of birds feeding or drinking at the same time was a distant possibility, sources said.
“Nothing, however, is ruled out as yet. The cause of death will be confirmed after test reports come. An expert team from OUAT will also visit the site for ground examinations,” Chandaka DFO Akshay Patnaik said.
Meanwhile, the mass bird deaths have put the officials on high alert as the forest lies on the edge of Chandaka Dompada Wildlife Sanctuary and close to the Chilika lagoon. With migratory season on and birds beginning to flock to the lake, authorities have enhanced surveillance measures to check for any unnatural behaviour or deaths. Samples will also be collected from different parts of the lagoon and sent to ADRI for testing, PCCF Wildlife S S Srivastav said.
Fisheries and Animal Resources department Secretary Bishnupad Sethi said an alert has been issued for Chilika and nearby forests. Community level surveillance will also be enhanced. “We are waiting for the report and all necessary steps will be taken to prevent any untoward turn”, he said.