Telangana’s water bodies, forests under watch for sick, dead birds

Hyderabad: All water bodies and reservoirs in forests and wildlife areas in Telangana are under surveillance for sick and dead birds in the wake of bird flu cases reported in nine states in the country, the state Forest Department said on Monday.

The department has sought co-operation of NGOs and volunteers to keep surveillance on wetlands and bird areas outside forests and protected areas. The Central Zoo Authority is using daily progress report to monitor the spread of the virus.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden R. Sobha, who reviewed the situation at a meeting on Monday, said the field officers have been instructed to collect the carcasses of birds detected during this period, pack them safely and send to veterinary science laboratories for analysing and identifying cause of death.

The general public has been requested to be alert and if any dead bird is noticed, the information should be passed on to the wildlife crime control cell at Aranya Bhavan, Hyderabad with toll-free no 1800-425-5364, which functions around the clock.

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The district officers have been requested to coordinate with the Animal Husbandry Department, as well as the district administration in taking required preventive measures and vigil to detect death of birds.

The Nehru Zoo Park, Hyderabad and Kakatiya Zoo, Warangal have taken prophylactic measures like spread of bleaching and lime powder around enclosures, maintaining cleanliness and hygiene in the area. Bird sections in the zoos have been closed to public and only animal keepers protected with PPE kits are permitted to provide feed and water.

The Chief Wildlife Warden informed the participants that in an unfolding avian flu crisis, a substantial number of high altitude birds, particularly the bar-headed geese, which add charm to wetlands every winter have perished along with other birds species. Latest reports of avian flu indicate spread in nine states – Uttar Pradesh, Himachal, Delhi, Haryana, Gujrat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Kerala.

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Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change Prakash Javadekar has requested all the states to take preventive measures to control the spread of bird flu and to detect and report all cases of death of birds to the authorities concerned for taking necessary action.

Over 2,000 bar headed geese were found dead in Pong Dam lake in Himachal Pradesh. More than four lakh birds (domestic & wild) have died in Haryana. Over 1.20 lakh ducks have perished in Kerala. The strains of bird flu confirmed are H5N8 and H5N1. These strains are zoonotic and have potential to spread to human population also, the forest official said.

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