Mandya: With seven more pelicans dying in November-December at the Kokkarebellur Conservation Reserve in Maddur taluk, forest officials continue to be baffled at the phenomenon.
Kokkarebellur attracts a large number of migrating pelicans, which arrive here for nesting every year from November to June before they fly back to the countries they come from with their newborn chicks.
While it was reputed for its pelican breeding in the past, Kokkarebellur has in the last couple of years gained notoriety following the deaths of around 75 of the birds at the reserve. An examination of the pelicans has pointed to stomach infection possibly as a result of the polluted waters of the reserve.
But forest officials are being helped by avian experts from wildlife NGOs and a wildlife researcher of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun to establish the exact cause of the mass pelican deaths.
Says Deputy Conservator of Forests, Siddaramappa Chalkapure, “There have been no such deaths of pelicans anywhere in the world except at Kokkarebellur. So we are working to find out the cause.”
Noting that pelicans forage for food within 50km of their nesting place, he says it is possible that they may have in the process contracted an infection, causing them to starve and die.
Despite the deaths of the pelicans, Mr Siddaramappa says Kokkarebellur has not seen a dip in their arrival and this season as many as 450 birds have been nesting in its grounds for breeding.
“The new chicks born this season are healthy,” he says, adding that a close watch will be kept on the birds till the end of the season in June....