Over 400 migratory birds die mysteriously in Pong wetlands

Shimla, Dec 30 : Over 400 migratory birds, the endangered bar-headed geese, died mysteriously in the past two days in the Pong Dam wetlands, one of the largest man-made wetlands in northern India in Himachal Pradesh, officials said on Wednesday.

Preliminary findings of their postmortem have ruled out poisoning as the cause of their death, they said.

An official report quoting the Deputy Chief Conservator (Wildlife) in Hamirpur said that the field staff reported the sudden death of four bar-headed geese and one common teal in Fatehpur area on December 28.

The next day, the field staff were ordered to carry out a search of the entire area of the sanctuary and 421 bar-headed geese were found dead in the wildlife range of Dhameta and Guglara areas of the Nagrota range.

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Sensing the gravity of the situation, Forest Minister Rakesh Pathania said that the Wildlife Wing has initiated a probe into the deaths of the migratory birds.

After receiving the reports of the samples sent to different institutions, strict action will be taken against those found guilty, he added.

Pathania directed the senior officials to go to the site and look into the various aspects of the deaths.

The Deputy Chief Conservator (Wildlife) said the viscera samples of the geese were taken to a veterinary laboratory for testing. The samples have been prepared at the laboratory and sent for further examination.

A team of veterinarians visited the Guglara area for assessment of the ground realities and will send samples to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Bareilly, the Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Jalandhar and the Wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun for further examination.

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Every winter, the Pong wetlands are home to over 100,000 birds of nearly 114 species. Among them the bar-headed geese, the northern pintail, the Eurasian coot, the common teal, the common pochard, the northern shoveler, the great cormorant, the Eurasian wigeon and the ruddy shelduck are notable.

According to the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), the Pong wetlands are the one wintering grounds in the globe to hold such a large congregation of bar-headed geese.

Most of the wetlands in India have been regularly getting bar-headed geese every winter. But Pong is the only habitat that holds the largest influx of bar-headed geese every winter, a BNHS ornithologist told IANS.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.

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