Scores of wild Peacock, which roam the desert of Tharparkar in The Nagarparkar district, are feared dead after the outbreak of one of the deadly bird diseases, The Newcastle Disease, locally known as the Ranikhet.
News of the outbreak reached the Sindh Wildlife department when the local natives came over with the dead birds and apprised the authorities of the weird circumstances.
“Wild peacocks have become susceptible to bacterial and fungal attack, which further suppressed the immunity of the birds that paved the room for viral attack,” said a Wildlife Ministry official.
Scores of birds have reported to have been dead although the government officials deny the severity of the outbreak as portrayed by the media. One of the major reason cited for the swiftness of the outbreak is the lack of immunity among the birds. Delayed Monsoon and lack of vegetation has severly afected the strenght of the birds thereby reducing their immunity towards diseases.
“We are vaccinating wild peacocks protectively for suspected viral disease, as in 2003 when a few peacocks died from the same symptoms that later proved to be Ranikhet,” said Lajpat Sharma, an official in the provincial wildlife ministry.
Newcastle disease is a worldwide problem among birds and sporadic outbreaks can occur frequently. Thar Desert is home of at least a strong 30,000 wild Peacocks adding to the biodiversity and the beauty of the region.
Sindh Wildlife Minister Dr Daya Ram Essarani has strongly denied the death of 100 birds as reported by the local media earlier.
“The confirmed figure is 11 deaths while 14 birds are suffering from Rani Khet, a viral disease that occurs in chickens,” the minister said.
The Minister however, also admitted that there were no facilities for remedial measures within the Wildlife department and therefore help was sought from the Animal Husbandry department.
He added, “The wildlife department has no doctor of its own. Therefore, we sought the help of vets of the animal husbandry department. The animal husbandry department also provided medicines which are sufficient for treating 30,000 peacocks,”
Tharparkar, also considered as the only fertile desert in the world, is also home of some of the rare species of birds and animals which are fast vanishing in other parts of India, are found in the desert in large numbers such as the Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra), the Indian Gazelle (Gazella bennettii) and the Indian Wild Ass (Equus hemionus khur) in the Rann of Kutch.
The Thar desert is also home of no fewer than 141 migratory and resident birds which includes eagles, harriers, falcons, buzzards, kestrel and vultures. Short-toed Eagles (Circaetus gallicus), Tawny Eagles (Aquila rapax), Spotted Eagles (Aquila clanga), Laggar Falcons (Falco jugger) and kestrels.
Indian Peafowl (Peacock) is one of the most magnificent and prominent birds in the desert and can be often spotted sitting on trees and around villages.