Lakhs of migratory birds which have congregated at the Chilika lake are facing a threat to their lives following the detection of avian influenza virus barely a few kilometres away from the Nalabana Bird Sanctuary.
Some crows and chickens were found dead inside poultry farms in Krushnaprasad block last week. Subsequently, samples were sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, Bhopal, for testing. The State government informed that the samples have tested positive for H5N1 virus and a massive culling operation would be undertaken from Friday inside private poultry farms in the affected villages. The Puri district administration would cull birds within one km radius of the place where the carcasses were found. Besides, officers of animal husbandry department have been asked to intensify surveillance in 10 km-radius area. “There is threat to migratory birds as avian flu was detected barely 5 km from the sanctuary limit. Bar-headed goose birds are most susceptible to H5N1 virus, which is very contagious,” said Susanta Nanda, Chief Executive of Chilika Development Authority. “No preventive action can be taken as it is difficult to sanitise such a large area of the Nalabana Bird Sanctuary. The Chilika Wildlife Division is prepared to face any emergency situation,” he added. According to Mr. Nanda, more than seven lakh migratory birds have arrived at the Chilika lake this year.