Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Tuesday issued orders for the state wetland authority to be made operational at the earliest in the wake of death of over 17,000 migratory birds in and around the Sambhar Lake, which is the country's largest inland water saltwater lake near Jaipur. The state wetland authority is the top body to preserve and protect all wetlands in the state including the Sambhar Lake.
As many as 17,981 birds have been found dead near the lake, since the incident came to light eleven days ago. Over 600 birds, including 32 migratory species of birds like Shoveller, Teal, Plover, Mallard
have been rescued and given treatment at the rescue centres.
The government is awaiting a detailed analysis of the dead birds from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute as well as a report from a southern India laboratory on the water's heavy metal toxicity.
Initial tests conducted on the dead birds have suggested Avian botulism -- a naturally occurring neurotoxin which is passed onto waterbirds through infected bugs -- as the likely cause. While Avian botulism causes paralysis or death on birds, it is not contagious to humans.
"Veterinary experts from the Rajasthan University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences have indicated that the deaths occurred due to botulism," the state forest department's principal secretary, Sreya Guha, was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
Officials suspect the birds had been feeding on maggot-infested carcasses, contributing to their death.
Twenty teams of over 100 veterinarians and nursing staff to save the birds in Sambhar Lake region in Jaipur district. they are being assisted by a team of about 100 employees of the Forest Department, teams of State Disaster Response Force and several voluntary organisations are also on the ground taking part in the rescue operations.
The officials pointed out that after proper disposal of carcasses, and rescue works, the number of deaths has declined considerably
The region around Sambhar Lake, like several other big and small water bodies around India, is an important destination for thousands of domestic and international migratory birds every winter.
Bird watchers in the region fear the final toll and impact of the botulism infection will be significantly higher because of the size of the lake ecosystem, local media reports said.
With inputs from AFP and PTI