At least 150 peacocks reportedly die of contagious disease in Thar

Updated February 26, 2017

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The neck of the birds get swollen after contracting the infection, after which they suddenly fall on the ground. ─Photo by author
The neck of the birds get swollen after contracting the infection, after which they suddenly fall on the ground. ─Photo by author

At least 150 peacocks have succumbed to a disease during the last four weeks in the Thar region of Sindh, with reportedly 12 more peacocks dying on Sunday in the Nagarparkar and Mithi tehsils of Tharparkar district.

The sudden spike in deaths of the birds have sparked doubt and fear among local experts as well as natives who say this might be an onset of the Newcastle disease, locally known as Ranikhet, a contagious avian disease.

Abdul Majeed Junejo, chairman of Joru union council near Mithi, told the local journalists that during past couple of weeks, more than 30 peafowls have died of disease.

"The neck of the birds swell up after contracting the infection, after which they eventually collapse and die," Junejo added, saying there are plenty of birds who are ailing and are in a need of treatement.

He said that he, along with locals, have time and again requested the wildlife department to visit the area and determine what is causing the sudden deaths of the birds but to no avail.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Haleem Adil Shaikh, who is also the chairman of Pakistan Relief Foundation, an organisation working in the Thar desert, echoed Junejo's comments.

Shaikh told Dawn that he has also demanded authorities to asses the situation.

Ashfaque Ahmed Memon, an official at the wildlife department, said that despite a shortage of staff in the vast desert region, teams were being sent to villages to collect samples of dead birds as well as vaccinate the sick peafowls. He added that four additional teams had been formed on an emergency basis to vaccinate the ailing birds.