CHITRAL: Hundreds of common crows have perished in different localities of Chitral town, including the Chitral Gol National Park, over the past four weeks.

Divisional forest officer of Chitral wildlife division Ijaz Ahmed told Dawn that prevalence of a mysterious disease could be the cause of death of scavengers in large numbers.

He said a number of carcasses of the bird had been sent to the veterinary hospital for examination and, on the basis of its findings, the nature of the prevailing disease could be found.

However, he said the symptoms observed from the bodies of the dying birds suggested the disease was viral influenza but there were still many signs which were contrary to it.

The forest officer said the bird species might have been affected due to consumption of flesh of dogs poisoned to death in a recent campaign by the tehsil municipal administration in the city as the killed dogs were not properly buried.

He feared death of more scavengers by eating the poisoned flesh of dogs than the viral disease.

Mr Ahmed said the scavengers had a strong immunity system to resist diseases which other birds could not but they were susceptible to poison.

Meanwhile, the residents of the town also felt the sharply declining number of common crows and have expressed their apprehensions over it.

Abdul Ghafoor, a shopkeeper in Chew Bazaar flanking the river, said the volume of garbage had increased tremendously along the riverbank opposite to his shop, but no crow could be seen there, while in the past, the birds used to gather there early in the morning.

He said a large number of dead crows as well as ailing birds could be seen along the riverbanks near Shahi Qilla which has been their known habitat due to heaps of garbage.

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2018