Grey pelicans succumb to nematodes infection in AP

Their famous breeding ground here has now turned a deathbed for tens of spot-billed or grey pelicans.Starting with two on December 26, 2021, at least 100 grey pelicans have succumbed to nematodes infection in the Naupada Swamps in this remote district bordering Odisha.This was the first instance in decades, since the birds started arriving here, that the pelicans fell prey to an infection, Forest Department officials say.There were 336 grey pelicans in 168 nests in the bird sanctuary at Telineelapuram this time around.


PTI | Vijayawada | Updated: 29-01-2022 13:15 IST | Created: 29-01-2022 12:59 IST
Grey pelicans succumb to nematodes infection in AP
pelican Image Credit: Wikipedia
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Their famous breeding ground here has now turned a deathbed for tens of spot-billed or grey pelicans.

Starting with two on December 26, 2021, at least 100 grey pelicans have succumbed to nematodes infection in the Naupada Swamps in this remote district bordering Odisha.

This was the first instance in decades, since the birds started arriving here, that the pelicans fell prey to an infection, Forest Department officials say.

There were 336 grey pelicans in 168 nests in the bird sanctuary at Telineelapuram this time around. And, there were another 94 newborn baby pelicans in the same habitat.

"Of the total, about 100 grey pelicans (adults) have died over the last one month. Now, 330 of them are left, including the baby pelicans," a senior official of the Forest Department said.

The exact count was still being taken as the birds were known to fly over a radius of 200 km. "They fly as far as Ichchapuram and Parlakimidi (in neighbouring Odisha) and prey on fish. So, tracking them is hard," the official pointed out.

The Telineelapuram sanctuary is a famous breeding ground for the spot-billed pelicans that migrate here annually in September from Siberia.

Decades ago, the local villagers donated a three-acre site, when the birds started flocking, and turned it into a sanctuary with several tamarind trees serving as the nests.

The area falls under the Naupada Swamps and there are fish tanks spread over 1,000 acres in the vicinity.

Most of the trees in the sanctuary were uprooted in the Titli cyclone in the year 2018 and the safe habitat for the pelicans became endangered, though they continued to flock in good numbers every year.

The fish tanks thus became the feed source for the pelicans and it was through the fish that the birds contracted the parasitic infection.

"On December 26, our bird watchers noticed that two birds had suddenly died. At first we suspected it to be a case of bird-flu or some other infection," the forest official said.

They immediately took the dead pelicans to the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ADDL) in Srikakulam for a post-mortem, wherein it was established that nematodes infection was the cause.

On January 6, 2022, another pelican was found dead and it was also sent to ADDL for post-mortem.

"The conclusion was the same that nematodes caused the death. The ADDL suggested immediate deworming of the birds but that could not be done since it was breeding time," the official said.

Some fish from the tanks in the area were also taken to ADDL for examination and they were found infested with nematodes.

Though chlorination of the fish tanks was also suggested, it could not be undertaken since the area was too large.

"Since then tens of birds have succumbed but luckily the baby pelicans seem to be unaffected. Also, a few hundred painted storks that inhabit the same sanctuary are safe," the forest official noted.

Similar instances were reported in the Mandya region of Karnataka since 2017 where the grey pelicans died of nematodes infection.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (HoFF) N Prateep Kumar told PTI that samples collected from the tanks were sent to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute for analysis.

"We are taking measures to contain the situation and save the birds," he said.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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