Bird monitoring programme missing

Kerala culled around two-lakh poultry last year following avian flu

September 23, 2015 12:00 am | Updated 12:23 pm IST - KOCHI:

Two months into the migratory bird season, a migratory bird surveillance programme promised after the last year’s avian flu outbreak, is missing in the State.

Around 2 lakh poultry in Kottayam and Alappuzha districts had to be culled to contain the disease. The Forest department had announced surveillance programmes for domestic and long distant migrant birds following the incidents. It proposed the monitoring scheme in January this year fearing that “there is every possibility of the resurgence of the disease in future.”

Bird watchers and ornithologists associated with the important wetlands in the State where the migratory birds congregrate in large numbers confirmed the absence of “routine surveillance plan against avian influenza” in birding sites. The bird enthusiasts have also reported the arrival of early migratory birds in almost all the wetlands of the state this year.

E. S. Praveen, the Thrissur district coordinator of the Bird Atlas programme, said no tracking of the birds is being carried out in Kole Wetlands though Painted Storks and Sand Plowers have started arriving in large numbers.

Basil Peter, a bird watcher from Ernakulam, who visited the birding sites of Ezhupunna, Puthu Vypeen and Kandakadavu in the district this season, said confirmed the absence of the observation system.

Dr. B. Sreekumar, president of the Kottayam Nature Society, attested to the absence of the supervisory programme mechanism in the wetlands of Kottayam district including Kuttanad and Kumarakom areas. Migratory species have started arriving in the district from August. Other than the bird watching programme being implemented under the Green Partnership programme of the department, no serious efforts have gone into the tracking of the birds for the disease, he said.

C. Sasikumar, renowned ornithologist associated with the Malabar Nature History Society, said no official steps for keeping a tab of the visiting birds were in place in the northern Kerala. Instances of migrant and domestic ducks intermingling and feeding could bee seen in wetlands of Alappuzha and Kottayam districts.

The pathogens of diseases, which would remain dormant in wild animals, would establish themselves in favourable conditions. Hence, strict vigil and close monitoring of the situation is warranted, he said.

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