Odisha, October 17, 2018 : Very severe cyclonic storm, TITLI hit between Odisha and Andhra border on 10th October 2018. The storm along with scattered flooding affected many animals, chiefly the major roosting sites of Open-bill storks. The strong winds broke down branches and uprooted trees that the birds were using as a site to roost and nest. The Emergency Relief Network team received information on two majorly affected areas: The settlement near Jagannathpur Railway station, bordering Behampur in Ganjam district of Odisha and Telukunchi bird sanctuary in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh. Both these areas faced the wrath of the cyclone and over 1000 birds had died in both places.
The mortality was highest in Ganjam where the team noticed numerous dead birds strewn along the railway tracks. Many of these were nestlings and fledgelings as well. While many birds succumbed in Telekunchi as well, many survived as well. Most of them were starving, dehydrated and few of them had minor to major injuries (even wing fractures). After the assessment in both the places, the ERN team led by Rudra Mahapatra responded to the emergency along with a team of veterinarians and volunteers on 13 October 2018. The team erected makeshift shelters in situ near the roosting site of the birds to provide veterinary and husbandry care.
Apart from veterinary care, the major point of concern was the supply of food for the birds. Open-billed storks feed predominately on molluscs: and due to the floods, most of the molluscs had washed away. Additionally, due weakness and injuries the birds were not able to forage effectively. With the help of volunteers from Ganjam, Odisha the ERN team managed to collect over 3-5 kg of snails every day and provided them to the storks in Telekunchi.
Within the three days operation, the team provided veterinary support to around 45 birds. Additionally, the team provided food support to over 300 birds.
We extend our thanks to AP forest department, Indira Gandhi zoological park Veterinarian, Srikakulam forest division, and the villagers of Telukunchi for their support.
WTI Team member during the operation
Dr Mandakini Sahoo, Dr Sagar Sahoo, Srikrishna Das (Photography), Magata (Volunteer from Ganjam who was instrumental in collecting snails), Pramod (Driver but volunteered during the work), Rudra Prasanna Mahapatra
Picture Courtesy: Rudra Prasanna Mahapatra, Srikrishna Das