Amid flu scare, waterbird census continues

Officials on high alert | Experts’ panel formed to collect reports from field officers after goose tests +ve

Amid flu scare, waterbird census continues

Aman Sood

Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 20

Amid bird flu scare following the death of a migratory bird in the state recently, the Asian Waterbird Census continues in Punjab. Also, the Wildlife Department has formed a special committee of experts after one positive case was reported from the Siswan wetland.

The Department of Forests and Wildlife Preservation, Punjab, along with the WWF-India, bird experts, scientists, researchers and amateur birdwatchers, is assessing and documenting the status of water birds migrating to the key wetlands of Punjab in winter.

Experts say they have assessed and documented the status of water birds at the Nangal and Ropar wetlands in Rupnagar district. They are now assessing the Ranjit Sagar and Keshopur wetlands in Pathankot district. The WWF and wildlife department experts will further survey the wetlands of Kanjli and Harike in Kapurthala and Ferozepur districts, respectively, this week.

“We have not found any suspected flu symptoms in birds. Barring an odd case of a bar-headed goose, birds at almost all wetlands of the state look healthy,” said Geetanjali Kanwar, coordinator, aquatic biodiversity, WWF-India. “The migration of water birds is on. The exact estimate and comparison with last year’s count will be completed soon,” she said.

Meanwhile, the carcass of the bar-headed goose was sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, Bhopal, where it tested positive for bird flu. “We have put all our teams on high alert and a committee of experts has been formed to collect reports from field officers,” said Basanta Rajkumar, Chief Conservator of Forests.

“We are keeping a close tab on migratory birds at all wetlands and a team, comprising experts from various departments, is monitoring the situation,” he said.

“We are not taking any chances and regularly collecting samples. There is nothing to worry,” he added.

Rare black-tailed godwit spotted at Harike

  • Migratory birds such as the Eurasian coot, common pochard, gadwall, greylag goose, spot-billed duck, little cormorant, pied avocet and great cormorant have been spotted in good number at various wetlands
  • Other rare birds spotted in this season are ferruginous pochard, common teal, northern shoveler, steppe gull and brown-headed gull
  • Flocks of rare birds such as northern lapwing and black-tailed godwit have also been spotted at Harike

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