‘Over 100’ migratory birds found dead in Tripura lake, villagers urged not to eat them

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Over a hundred migratory birds were said to have been found dead in the Sukhsagar lake in Tripura’s Gomati district, 50km from here, two days ago. While many carcasses were collected by local villagers, a few were retrieved by forest department personnel and were sent for postmortem examinations.

District Forest Officer Mahender Singh said he was not authorised to speak to the media about the incident. However, other officials, who didn’t wish to be named, said samples were being collected from the area and sent for postmortem examinations at the animal resource development department’s laboratory in Agartala for analysing the cause of the bird’s death.

Some local officers said the birds might have died from insecticides used in paddy fields that adjoin the lake.

The issue came to light after local people captured videos and photographs of dead birds and shared them with the authorities. The villagers were seen recovering the bird carcasses from the lake in the Khilpara area. Many said they had taken some of the bird carcasses home. Some carcasses were also taken away by stray dogs.

As the search for the bird carcasses went on, forest officials used a public address system to urge people in the area not to eat any bird carcass they might have come across, and to hand them over to the authorities for proper disposal.

Meanwhile, some local officers said on the condition of anonymity that the birds had been found scattered across the sprawling waterbody, making it difficult to give an exact count of them. He also said the birds might have died from insecticides used in paddy fields that adjoin the lake.

A senior forest department official said, “If what is reported is true, it is a serious issue. If it’s a matter of one or two dead birds, it may be a local issue. However, we are not yet sure if these photographs are genuinely from this area or not. The person who informed us earlier is now saying he didn’t go to the spot himself.” The official, however, said he did not doubt the veracity of the incident “but want to be sure if this incident is from this place or somewhere else”.

The official said forest department personnel had for the past two days been tasked with scanning the entire area for signs of dead birds but that carcasses were not found in large numbers as the photos claimed. “We found one or two whistling teals. These are found in Eurasia and Australasia. They migrate and some of them become localised. They come from different places. But we didn’t find any bodies of purple moorhen, which is seen in the pictures shared with us,” the official said.

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