A few days back, a mystery was reported at Sambhar Lake. The famous habitat for the migratory birds saw a lot of deaths of birds and the lake was turned into a graveyard. The incident was quite shocking and mysterious.
Thousands of migratory birds were found dead near the Sambhar salt lake of Rajasthan. The incident was first reported on 11th November and since then the death toll has been rising continuously. According to recent reports, over 10,000 birds have been found dead near the water body.
The National Institute of High-Security Diseases, Bhopal, discovered that the reason for these deaths is a disease named avian botulism. Apart from this, there were other predictions and explanations for this cause.
Effluents from salt-manufacturing units in the area, illegal salt-mining, excessive groundwater extraction, and mass starvation are also considered as some of the reasons for these deaths.
Reports say that the reason for the death of so many birds is a bacterial infection. The bodies of the birds show the symptoms of paralysis, which connect the links to Avian Botulism.
Avian Botulism is caused by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum which is typically found in polluted water bodies with low quantities of dissolved oxygen.
Botulism is a deadly disease and it can be one of the possible reasons for all the deaths. An expert from The Print also supported the theory of avian botulism and said Indian labs are not equipped to test the disease.
The mystery is still not resolved. Dau Lal Bohra a member of IUCN wildlife health specialist said:
“If there was a possibility of avian botulism or any viral infection, the birds would have had swollen nodes in some parts of the body. But when he physically inspected some of the birds, he couldn’t find these signs. If one is to believe that botulism is the reason then other species, as well as other parts of Sambhar Lake, should have been affected.”
The dead birds were found only at some places at the lake. The other areas have not shown any signs of paralysis or illness. The affected species include avocets, plovers, ruddy shelducks, and northern shovelers.
Bohra also said that:
“In case of viral diseases like influenza, crows are likely to be affected as well because they’re more likely to come in contact with the dead bodies of previously killed birds. However, no crows have been reported dead around Sambhar Lake.”
Another possibility which was predicted was either be a viral activity or the birds might have been exposed to a sudden electric shock.
According to the locals, there are a number of bore-well connections spread across the lake. The locals even claimed that the well’s electric cables were found damaged suggesting that the birds might have been electrocuted.
A Toxic Water Body
Locate about 80km west of Jaipur, the Sambhar lake has become a toxic water body source. The lake has been considered a Ramsar Site by the government under the Indian Wetland Conservation Programme.
Ramsar Sites are those sites which are of international importance. After declaring it as the Ramsar Site, the government has not been maintaining the site well.
People visit the lake for a temple of the goddess Shakambhari, located in the middle of the lake. The birds used to visit the lake and its bank to nest and feed. The part of the lake near the temple is called Sambhar and the area after that is Nawa. The dead birds have been reported on both the lakes but the number is on the sambhar side.
Considering the birds to be hazardous the agencies were suggested to burn the bodies instead of burying them into the soil.
Climate change has been affecting humans as well as animals and birds. Thousands of migratory birds died with reason unknown. It’s high time now, people should understand the need of the hour.