Newcastle Disease Linked To Peacock Deaths In Pakistan
By Anis Rehman | Top News
August 13, 2012
The annual monsoon season brings joy to the wild peacocks in Pakistan’s Tharparkar desert. But it was short lived this year as a deadly disease spread like wildfire across the desert.
AsianScientist (Aug. 13, 2012) – The annual monsoon season brings joy to the wild peacocks in Pakistan’s Tharparkar desert. But it was short lived this year as a deadly disease spread like wildfire across the desert.
Unofficial reports estimate the number of deaths to be at least 167 in the past three weeks. The Poultry Research Institute in Karachi has confirmed that the deaths are linked to Newcastle Disease, also known locally as Ranikheit.
The disease has hit seven southern districts in the Sindh province, namely Tharparkar, Mirpurkhas, Tando Allahyar, Badin, Sanghar, Hyderabad, and Shaheed Benazirabad.
More than half of the 2,300 villages in these districts have reported cases of the disease. Gullan Jattar, Bapuhar, and Hoti Jattar are among the villages that are worst hit.
The vast inaccessible areas of the Tharparker desert – spread over 19,638 square kilometers – raises the possibility of an even higher death toll, according to non-governmental organization wildlife experts.
Sindh Minister for Wildlife Dr. Daya Ram Essarani said that his department has started vaccinating peacocks at two camps in Tharparker and Badin while another was being set up in Sanghar. Meanwhile, villagers have been burying dead peacocks to stop the virus from spreading.
According to the last official survey conducted in 2005 by the Sindh Wildlife Department, there are approximately 40,000 peacocks living in the wild.
Minister Essarani said that the situation was not as severe as reported in the media. “It is not an alarming situation but the media has created hype,” he said at a recent press conference.
But villagers are terrified over the situation and have demanded that the authorities take urgent steps to control the spread of the virus. Many pet owners have also suffered deaths of their birds in the last two weeks.
Speaking to Asian Scientist Magazine, Younus Ramay from Tando Allahyar, a pet lover and a bird expert, said: “The last two weeks have been bad for the fancy birds. Many of our chickens including Light Sussex, Rohode Island Red, Australop, and Chochin Batam have died because of the current epidemic.”
Sadly, diseases are not the only threat that these birds face. Climate change, population growth, illegal wildlife trafficking, and industrial activities also endanger this species.
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: Anis Rehman
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