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Suspicious bird deaths in Dubai

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  • Suspicious bird deaths in Dubai

    A dozen birds have dropped dead on the shore of a lake in a Dubai housing development. International City resident Fajis Aboobacker Burayil was horrified to discover the bodies of gulls littering the edge of a lake near the Greek Cluster last week. Animal lover Burayil, 28, has reported the matter to developers Nakheel but said the cause of their deaths remains a mystery. It is so sad. Something bad must be in the water,? he said. ?They look like they have just fallen dead. I don?t know whether its pollution or wastewater getting into the lake or something like that but it?s horrible to see.? The 28-year-old regularly takes fish for the lake?s birds and has nursed several back to health when they have been injured. He says an investigation must be launched to determine the cause of the deaths. ?I love animals and I can?t stand to see them suffer,? he said. ?The lake and the wildlife there is beautiful, it?s an oasis of calm in the desert. But every day in this last week, it seems to have got worse.? Local experts say there are several possible causes that could have led to the sudden death, such as pesticides or fertiliser contaminating the water or an outbreak of botulism which can occur when visitors try to feed the animals by throwing bread into the lake. Avian botulism is caused by bacteria that thrive in warm water with low oxygen content and infects birds? nervous systems, which causes paralysis and often death by starvation as a result. Rotting food can also be a source of the bacteria. Nakheel?s security office at International City said it would investigate

  • #2
    Re: Suspicious bird deaths in Dubai

    Gulls' death attributed to bacterial infection
    Gulls have a few places between which to move in the area and depend on food thrown away or dead plants and animals, which can cause botulism, a bacterial disease associated with birds.

    By Emmanuelle Landais, Staff Reporter
    Published: 00:00 January 31, 2010
    Reader comments (4)

    Dead seagulls in the Lake Reservation project at International City yesterday. Gulls are dependent on food thrown away or dead plants and animals, which can cause botulism.Image Credit: Hadrain Hernandez/Gulf NewsDubai: Residents' fears from seeing dead gulls near the Lake at International City can cease, according to a Dubai-based zoologist and bird expert, as this is due to some bacterial disease that affects gulls and other birds.

    According to Dr Reza Khan, a wildlife specialist at Dubai Zoo, there are between 5,000 and 10,000 gulls flying from the Dubai Sewage Treatment Plant and the Lake at International City.

    Gulls have a few places between which to move in the area and depend on food thrown away or dead plants and animals, which can cause botulism, a bacterial disease associated with birds.


    Avian botulism causes paralysis resulting from ingestion of a toxin produced by the bacteria, Clostridium botulinum. This bacteria are widespread in soil and requires warm temperatures, a protein source and an anaerobic (no oxygen) environment in order to become active and produce toxin.

    Decomposing vegetation and invertebrates combined with warm temperature can provide ideal conditions for the bacteria to activate and produce toxin. There are several types of toxins produced by strains of this bacteria; birds are most commonly affected by type C and to a lesser extent by type E.

    According to the Zoological Society of London, botulism causes considerable mortality in gulls in the UK, and landfills are suspected as a major source of the toxin. The bacteria were found in 12 of 19 landfill sites examined.

    "The presence of these spores, together with the rotting organic matter and generated heat associated with landfill sites, undoubtedly leads to bacterial proliferation and toxigenesis," states a report by the Society. "This is likely to result in botulism in scavenging gulls unless skilled landfill management prevents the ingestion of toxic material."

    Khan yesterday said that a small number of Gulls from a flock of 10,000 feeding on waste material in the area is quite natural. "Dead animals and plants are part of their normal diet, they are depending on these for food, and in return suffer from botulism," he said.

    Birds either ingest the toxin directly or may eat prey containing the toxin. Fajis Abu Bakr, a Gulf News reader had sent a community report published on January 29 about the dead birds in International City.
    Twitter: @RonanKelly13
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