Centre Issues Guidelines after Concerning Bird Deaths in Himachal and Rajasthan
The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has recently issued a set of guidelines after a concerning series of bird deaths in Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. Fearing it might be bird flu, authorities have ordered a strict vigil on the wintering habitat of migratory birds for any signs of a flu outbreak in the backdrop of rising deaths of birds. The ministry issued the guidelines on Sunday, in view of Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan reporting several deaths in December 2020, including that of migratory birds.
According to the letter,
Considering this grave situation, the ministry requests all states / Union territories to take all possible measures / precautions to prevent the transmission of diseases, if any, in other animals / birds and human beings. Surveillance for mortality of wildlife, particularly in needs to be taken up on priority and States are requested to report such incidences of mortality to this ministry.
The guidelines have urged all the state authorities to report to the Union ministry every week. All states are ordered to immediately inform the central government in case of any more bird deaths. It also stated protocols for personal and bird care as well as monitoring of migratory birds.
Many crows were reported dead in Rajasthan’s Jhalawar, and more avian deaths were reported in other districts, including Jaipur; meanwhile, the Animal Husbandry Department has set up a state-level control room and has sent teams to the districts for effective monitoring. As many as 25 crows in Rajasthan have died owing to bird flu since last month. At least 1,700 migratory birds in Himachal Pradesh have died during the same time, for which causes remain uncertain.
According to Additional Director General (Wildlife) at MOEF&CC, Soumitra Dasgupta,
We have received reports from Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan about the deaths of birds. Preliminary reports attribute the deaths in Himachal Pradesh to bird flu, but we have sent the samples to High-Security Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal. We have taken proactive measures and written to states with guidelines on how to handle this. We are in touch with the animal husbandry department as they are the nodal ministry that deals with bird flu.
The guidelines urged that surveillance should not be limited to the Protected Areas alone, but to all such wetlands and habitats that provide feeding and breeding grounds to the migratory birds and to areas where even there is the slightest probability of interaction of migratory birds and poultry.
Dasgupta said that the last time a big number of bird deaths was observed in 2010-11. Since then, merely random reports of deaths by bird flu have been reported. However, if this series of deaths spirals out of control, it could result in a major mass die-off.
Via: Down to Earth