Nature lovers in Siliguri have voiced concern after several black kites started falling ill in Siliguri since last night. While some of the 46 birds dropped dead, most of them fell on the ground ill and died later.

“Ninety per cent of the birds that fell ill have died,” officials of the Himalayan Nature and Adventure Foundation (HNAF) said.

The remaining birds are being treated at the Bengal Safari veterinary hospital near Salugara in the town.

People at the Children Park in College Para and Tikiapara in the town on Friday witnessed a surprising phenomenon.

“Around 15 birds were recovered on Friday and more than 30 birds were found in the town today,” local sources said.

Officials of the state tourism department, along with those of the forest department, visited the sites where the birds were found last night.

According to the programme co-coordinator of HNAF, Animesh Bose, these scavenging birds play the role of ‘environment purifiers’ and their absence
will directly affect the environment.

“The absence of these prominent scavengers will hamper the environment as their scavenging practices serve an important role in the ecosystem by consuming rotting carcasses and they clean the environment, preventing the spread of diseases,” Mr Bose said.

“Most of the birds were found in five wards in Siliguri–28, 24, 19, 17 and 12. Around 15 birds were rescued yesterday, and around 30 today. Food poisoning could be the cause of the death. However, the exact cause can be ascertained only after a post-mortem,” added Mr Bose.

“We demand thorough examination of the birds so that we know what they had consumed and identify the cause. A similar incident had taken place two years ago, where 26 back kites died due to food poisoning, but no reports were published then,” he claimed.

Meanwhile, the director of the Bengal Safari North Bengal Wild Animals Park, Arun Mukherjee, said samples will be sent for tests to the Beligachia veterinary hospital in Kolkata.

“We are providing medical aid to the ailing birds, but the death rate is high, and some are under medical intervention. We will send the samples to the Beligachia veterinary hospital tomorrow, after which the cause of the death can be ascertained. We have taken up precautionary measures for burning the dead birds,” Mr Mukherjee said.