The Sultanpur National Park, a bird sanctuary in Gurgaon, India,
has been shut down after nearly 40 birds were found dead inside on Saturday,
triggering fears of bird flu.
"More than 40 migratory birds were found dead inside the sanctuary
on Saturday morning. Later, a team of veterinarians from the Animal Husbandry
Department took blood samples. We have decided to shut down the sanctuary as
precautionary measure," said District Forest Officer K.S. Khatkar.
The seasonal wetland enthralls around 200 species of migratory
birds from as far as Europe, Siberia and Central Asia. Also, it is an important
refuge for several insects, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. The wetland is a
heaven for bird enthusiasts and wildlife photographers especially during the
period of October-March.
The forest officer maintained that most birds that died were
seed-eating birds and probably fed on seeds sprayed with pesticides. Mr.
Khatkar said the possibility of bird flu seemed remote.
"Prima facie, the dead birds did not show signs of bird flu.
However, the samples will be sent to a laboratory in Bhopal to rule out bird
flu completely," Mr. Khatkar added.
In the wake of reports about bird deaths across Haryana, the Forest
Department has hired flying trappers to take blood samples of birds in the
national park. The report on the samples is still awaited.
Meanwhile, several bird enthusiasts who reached the park on Sunday
were disappointed to find it closed.