Wednesday, Aug 10, 2022

Parched: As Heatwave Soars, Dehydrated Birds Are Falling From Skies In Gujarat

Animal rescuers, doctors and activists in Ahmedabad have been stumped by the increase in cases of dehydrated birds falling from skies as natural sources of water dry up amid heatwave.

Birds falling from the sky
Birds falling from the sky AP Photos

It's so hot in India that birds have started falling out of the sky because of dehydration. While parts of north India brace for yet another heatwave from Friday, the effects of the early-onset and prolonged heatwave have started to show. In Gujarat, environmental activists have reported a rise in dehydrated birds falling from the sky after prolonged heat caused nearby water sources such as ponds and canals to dry up. 

According to reports, animal rescuers, doctors and activists in Ahmedabad have been stumped by the increase in cases of dehydrated birds falling from mid-air, essentially having a heat stroke as temperatures soar. Gujarat, like most parts of north-western India, experienced an early onset of summer with temperatures touching a scorching 45 degrees in regions like Kutchin the very first week of April. The increased temperatures have not only impacted humans but also wildlife in the areas. According to doctors at a hospital managed by non-profit animal rights organisation Jivdaya Charitable Trust in Ahmedabad, thousands of birds have become victims of dehydration in the past few weeks. The affected birds include pigeons, kites, crows and other commonly sen avian species. 

Doctors at the hospital have claimed that this year, amid a record heatwave, the number of birds being rescued and brought for treatment has increased tenfold, Al Jazeera reported. Once brought to the hospital, the doctors treat the birds with a mix of water and multivitamins. 

Gujarat has consistently been facing heatwave. Surendranagar city recorded the highest maximum temperature at 46 degrees Celsius in Gujarat on Wednesday, May 12, with the India Meteorological Department (IMD) warning that heatwave conditions will prevail in some parts of north Gujarat and the Saurashtra-Kutch region for another day before likely respite. As the mercury soared, cities like Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar recorded the maximum temperatures of 45.8 degrees Celsius each. The minimum temperature in Ahmedabad is 29.7 degrees Celsius, a departure of 2.8 degrees Celsius from normal, as per the Met department.

In 2010, Ahmedabad experienced one of its worst heatwaves which reportedly caused over 1,300 deaths. With increasing urban population density, extreme climate change conditions have led to pockets of water scarcity. While the conditions have had a poor effect on marginalised urban sections, experts are now expressing concern about the impact it might be having on wildlife and ecology. 

Meanwhile, the Met department said that heat wave condition is very likely to prevail in isolated pockets in some north Gujarat districts including Ahmedabad and Surendranagar and Kutch in the Saurashtra-Kutch region.

In keeping with the predictions for upcoming weeks, animal lovers have been urging local residents in states experiencing heat waves to take extra care of the everyday animals around them and take care to provide sources of water to help them hydrate and survive the heat. Setting up bowls of water in urban residential spaces or public places can go a long way in helping city birds survive the harsh summer.

(With inputs from PTI)