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Lead Shotgun Pellets in Lake in Cyprus Causing Death of Flamingos.

Posted on the 26 February 2021 by Sampathkumar Sampath

A large number of migratory Flamingo birds have flocked to Navi Mumbai in recent times.  Migratory birds were seen at the creek in Navi Mumbai. Every year thousands of flamingos migrate to Mumbai. The flamingos are believed to fly in from as far as Iran. Scores of flamingos at the creek is an eye-catching moment for the tourists.

lead shotgun pellets in lake in Cyprus causing death of  flamingos.

சத்திமுத்தப் புலவர் சங்க காலப் புலவர்களில் ஒருவர்,  இவர் வறுமையால் தளர்வுற்று தம் ஊர்விட்டு அயலூர் சென்று ஒரு குட்டிச் சுவரின் அருகில் குளிருக்கு ஒதுங்கியிருக்கும் போது நாரை ஒன்று மேலே பறக்கக் கண்டு, வறுமையிலும் தன் பிரிவாலும் வருந்திக் கொண்டிருக்கும் தன் மனைவிக்கு அதைத் தூதாக அனுப்புவது போல் பாடிய பாடல் :

நாராய் நாராய் செங்கால் நாராய்

பழம்படு பனையின் கிழங்கு பிளந்தன்ன

பவளக் கூர்வாய் செங்கால் நாராய்  .. .... ..

அவ்வமயம் அங்கே நகர சோதனைக்கு வந்த மாறான் வழுதி என்ற அரசன் இச்செய்யுளைக் கேட்டு, நாரையின் மூக்கிற்குப் பல அறிஞர்களிடமும், நூல்களிடமும் உவமை காணாது தேடிக்கொண்டிருந்த போது பனங்கிழங்கின் உவமையைக் கேட்டுக் களிப்புற்று, தன் மீது போர்த்தியிருந்த  என்ற மேலாடையினை சாற்றி  மேலும் பல பரிசுகளையும் அவர்க்கு அளித்தான்.

பூநாரை  என்பது நாரை வகைப் பறவையாகும். கரையோரப் பறவையாகிய . இதன் அலகு அகலமாகவும், வளைந்தும் காணப்படும். நீண்ட முடியற்ற சிவந்த கால்கள் இதற்கு இருக்கும். சகதி நிறைந்த நீர்நிலைகளில் உணவு தேடும். மிதவை உயிரினங்கள், சிறிய மீன்கள், புழு, பூச்சிகளை அலகால் எடுத்து, வடிகட்டும். பிறகு உணவை விழுங்கிவிடும்.   செங்கால் நாரை எனப்படும் இதன் ஆங்கிலப் பெயரான "பிளமிங்கோ"  (flamingo)இலத்தீன் மொழியிலிருந்து வந்தது.

Ducks, Cranes, Pelicans and more….. or simply … white birds, ducks, the ones with blue tinge…. One need not be an expert – still one can enjoy the winged visitors for sure….. for those used to concrete jungles missing even the common sparrow, these birds are quite enrapturing.  One could perhaps be looking at - Osprey, Greater Flamingo, Northern Pintail duck, Pied Avocet, Common Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper Yellow Wagtail, Little Stint, Grey-headed Lapwing, Glossy Ibis …… or some of their ilk at the Pallikaranai marsh lands.

Flamingos  are a type of wading bird in the family Phoenicopteridae, the only bird family in the order Phoenicopteriformes. Four flamingo species are distributed throughout the Americas, including the Caribbean, and two species are native to Africa, Asia, and Europe. The greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) is the most widespread and largest species of the flamingo family. It is found in Africa, on the Indian subcontinent, in the Middle East, and in southern Europe. The greater flamingo was described by Peter Simon Pallas in 1811.  

lead shotgun pellets in lake in Cyprus causing death of  flamingos.

Bird migration is the regular seasonal movement, often north and south along a flyway between breeding and wintering grounds, undertaken by many species of birds. Migration, which carries high costs in predation and mortality, including from hunting by humans, is driven primarily by availability of food. The Arctic Tern holds the long-distance migration record for birds, traveling between Arctic breeding grounds and the Antarctic each year. The timing of migration is controlled primarily by changes in day length. Migrating birds navigate using celestial cues from the sun and stars, the earth's magnetic field, and probably also mental maps.

Cyprus  is an island  nation in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. It is the third largest and third most populous island in the Mediterranean, and is surrounded by Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Syria, Greece and Turkey.   Nicosia is the country's capital and largest city.  Cyprus is home to some of the oldest water wells in the world. Cyprus was settled by Mycenaean Greeks in two waves in the 2nd millennium BC. As a strategic location in the Eastern Mediterranean, it was subsequently occupied by several major powers, including the empires of the Assyrians, Egyptians and Persians, from whom the island was seized in 333 BC by Alexander the Great.  Cyprus was placed under the UK's administration based on the Cyprus Convention in 1878 and was formally annexed by the UK in 1914.  Following nationalist violence in the 1950s, Cyprus was granted independence in 1960.  A separate Turkish Cypriot state in the north was established by unilateral declaration in 1983; the move was widely condemned by the international community, with Turkey alone recognising the new state. Cyprus is a major tourist destination in the Mediterranean.

Cyprus is a key stop on the migration path for many types of birds flying from Africa to Europe. The Larnaca Salt Lake, a wetlands network of four lakes, typically welcomes as many as 15,000 flamingos from colder climates to the southern coast of the island nation in the eastern Mediterranean. They stay through the winter and leave in March.  The government's Game and Fauna Service says in the first two months of last year, 96 flamingos were found dead in the Larnaca Salt Lake wetlands as a result of lead poisoning. Cyprus Veterinary Services official Panayiotis Constantinou, who has conducted autopsies on flamingos, said lead from the pellets poisoned the birds. The high number of deaths is mainly attributed to heavy winter rain two years ago that stirred up the lake sediment and dislodged embedded lead shot.

Alongside comes the news that Cyprus is  urged to ban hunting at coast to protect flamingoes from shotgun pellets as ingestion of lead shotgun pellets from bed of Larnaca Salt Lake blamed for rise in deaths of migrating flamingos. Conservationists in Cyprus are urging authorities to expand a hunting ban throughout a coastal salt lake network, amid concerns that migrating flamingos could swallow lethal quantities of lead shotgun pellets. Martin Hellicar, the director of Birdlife Cyprus, said flamingos were at risk of ingesting the tiny pellets lying on the lakebed as they fed. Like other birds, flamingos swallow small pebbles to aid digestion but cannot distinguish between pebbles and the lead pellets. 

Hunting is banned around most of the salt lake, but hunters are still allowed to shoot ducks in the network’s southern tip. The high number of death of flamingoes  is mainly attributed to heavy winter rain two years ago that stirred up the lake sediment and dislodged embedded lead shot. A sport shooting range near the lake’s northern tip closed nearly 18 years ago and authorities organised a cleanup of lead pellets in the lakebed there. But Hellicar said the cleanup was apparently incomplete. A European Union-funded study is under way to identify where significant amounts of lead pellets remain so they can be removed. Preliminary results of the study showed very high lead levels in the wetlands’ southern tip, and Hellicar said continued duck hunting there could compound the problem. “The problem is pronounced,” he said. “The danger is real for the flamingos and other birds that use the area.”

Alexandros Loizides, a Cyprus Hunting Federation official, said hunting in a 200-metre northern swath was not a problem, owing to the limited number of hunters. He said he was unaware of any flamingo deaths in the area and faulted pesticide and fertiliser runoff from nearby farms for creating any pollution problems hurting wildlife. A ban on the use of lead pellets near wetlands has been in force in Cyprus for several years. A similar, EU-wide ban took effect last month but conservationists believe the laws are not being enforced properly.

Man continues to be the biggest predator for most animals and birds !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
25.2.2021 

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