The emu birds at the Perundurai-based Queen Emu Farms, a leading player in the business, have begun attacking each other as the firm owners have disappeared, leaving the birds to starve.

More than 20 birds have died of starvation at the two farms of the firm, which houses over 2,000 birds. Experts feel that hunger is driving the birds to attack each other.

Decaying carcasses and hungry birds pecking at the weak ones present a sordid sight at one of farms in Bolanaickanpalayam village.

The birds have been left to starve since the disappearance of its owners. Without feed, the birds had begun attacking each other, said Bolanaickanpalayam panchayat president S. Somasundaram. “I have assigned a worker to feed the birds.”

The shocking development was described as a breakdown in the social behaviour of the birds driven by extreme circumstances, Dean of Veterinary College and Research Institute in Namakkal K.A. Duraisamy said. The situation is no different in the farms owned by other firms in the district.

The question as to who will take care of more than 15,000 emu birds in the district still remains unanswered.

The administration has made a temporary arrangement to supply feed to about 7,000 emu birds at Susi Emu Farms. “We received feed from a supplier and are taking care of the birds at Susi Emu Farms,” Collector V.K. Shanmugam said. The administration and police, however, remain non-committal about the maintenance of birds in other farms. It has requested Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University to send a team of experts to Erode to assist in effective handling of the situation.

The administration also contacted meat traders in Visakhapatnam and Hyderabad and asked them to visit the farm. “Veterinarians claim that the birds can survive for several days without feed. But we are taking every step to feed the birds,” the Collector said while denying reports of mass death of birds in the emu farms in the district.

Animal welfare activists have demanded that the administration provide minimum care to the abandoned birds on other farms. “Officials should take steps to feed the birds. We cannot leave the birds to die. It is cruel to leave them unattended totally,” Kalpana Vasudevan of People for Animals said.

The police have formed three special teams to nab chairman and managing director of Susi Emu Farms India M.S. Guru and seven others.

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