Nearly a hundred cotton teals–a migratory species of ducks were found dead, a mysterious occurance, and their bodies scattered in the farmlands beside the oxbow lake at Chupi in Purbasthali.
The Forest officials, after inspection, suspected that the deaths were caused due to avian botulism caused by water-soluble toxin produced by the pesticides sprayed in the paddy-fields by the local farmers.
Surrounding Purbasthali in Kalna and its adjoining villages, an oxbow lake created by the Ganga on its western bank sprawls over an area of 3.5 square kilometres close to Nabadwip in Nadia, attracting thousands of migratory birds–Lesser Whistling Teals, the Cotton Pygmy Goose also known as Cotton Teals, Bronzed Drongo, Asian Openbills along with common Sandpiper, Greenshank– round the year.
Most of the migratory birds flocking from the end of October, however, vacate the lake by the end of February each year.
“The Cotton teals though prefer to stay till the midsummer as the lake reserves hefty food for them and sometimes the ducks are often seen even during the monsoon here,” said Sukanta Ojha, Forest Range Officer, Katwa.
The subsequent survey by the Forest department as well as by some NGO’s revealed that each winter, countless ducks fall prey to poacher’s gun leading to the business of seasonal restaurant supply, unfortunately. Some local poachers were using hand-made traps to grab the birds but after the state took control of the lake and its adjoining areas the situation started altering slowly and the area turned from poacher’s field to birder’s paradise over the years.
“We don’t think, someone killed the ducks purposely,” the Forest officials said. Yesterday, some local residents like Kanu Das, Ananda Ghosh found a large number of ducks lying dead beside the farmland of Madan Sil-a local farmer and rushed to the village to inform others about this bizarre scene.
The matter was informed to the local Police Station–close to the lake and also to the Forest officials. A team of Forest officials headed by Ojha today arrived at the lake site and collected the bodies of the ducks.
Some of the bodies had already started decomposing, the officials said.
“Seventy dead ducks could be collected by our officials and samples were drawn. We were yet to get the autopsy final report however,” said Debashis Sharma, Divisional Forest Officer, Burdwan (East).
“We apprehend that the pesticide sprayed by the farmers got mixed with water in the rain last two days and ducks died from drinking the toxic water.” The department, meanwhile, has lodged a complaint with the local Purbasthali PS today against unidentified ‘miscreants’ under Sections 50 and 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 seeking action against the ‘offenders.’