Peliican deaths: Experts to conduct DNA test

Mar 14, 2018

Mysuru: As the deaths of spot-billed pelicans continue in Kokkare Bellur in Maddur taluk, veterinary experts have now decided to conduct DNA test of these migratory birds to find the actual cause for their deaths. The samples of the dead pelicans were sent to various laboratories in the country in the last few months. Lab reports suggested that the birds were infected with nematode worms. The other factors might be shortage of fish in rivers and lakes. Now, experts have decided to study why pelicans arriving at Kokkare Bellur were infected with nematodes, while pelicans found in other sanctuaries were not infected. They have also decided to study the life cycle of nematodes. In February, water samples from the lakes and Shimsha River near Kokkare Bellur were analyzed by experts from the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History in Coimbatore. The lab report confirmed that the contamination level was not alarming, but within permissible limit and ruled out toxicity. This forced experts to send the samples to various premier veterinary labs, including Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in Uttar Pradesh, Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Coimbatore, Department of Veterinary Pathology in Bengaluru. Experts have also decided to conduct toxicology study from the birds’ internal body samples and undigested food material. DCF (Wildlife) V Yedukondalu told TOI, “Experts will now find out the life cycle of nematodes and how it travels from one host to another.” Meanwhile, experts will also conduct a population study to know whether pelicans found in Kollare Bellur are different from other populations found in other sanctuaries like Ranganathittu. Experts believe that migratory birds — spot-billed pelicans and painted stork — avoid contact with people. But in Kokkare Bellur, these migratory birds live among humans. Meanwhile, the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) will study the migration of pelicans and track their migration, where they go during off season, their feeding grounds and other factors. An expert team led by Muralidharan had visited Kokkare Bellur and collected samples to investigate the PGM level, pesticides, heavy metals, pathological examinations like bacteria, viral, and molecular studies and even eco-system studies. The study was conducted in the 20 km radius of Kokkare Bellur.
Yedukondalu said the samples from post-mortem and pre-mortem will be collected and sent to these laboratories regularly for investigation. This will be a long-term study and also a first-of-its-kind in the entire world. “We hope to find a solution for the problem. The first lab report is expected within ten days and based on the findings we will discuss on further studies. This extensive study on pelicans will be a case study for conservation,” he said.

43 spot-billed pelicans have died in Kokkare Bellur in the last few months.

According to forest department, there are 150 pairs of adult pelicans in the village