© Kulbir Beera/HT
Officlas of forest and wild life departemnt showing dead cranes at Pakki Tibbi village in Bathinda on Sunday.
India - Something mysterious is killing common cranes at their newfound habitat near Pakki Tibbi village of the Lambi constituency. Hundreds of the birds have already died this season, while dozens are falling prey daily.

Pakki Tibbi village was never known for its wildlife attractions but the problem of water logging provided favourable conditions to the common cranes to make colonies on kikar trees along the Abohar-Fazilka railways line adjacent to the village.

"Young birds of the specie die every year when their attempts to fly fail, but deaths of mature cranes this season is new phenomenon. Now, the death rate has decreased, but around 40-50 cranes were dying daily till a few days back," said Amreek Singh, a villager.

Four common cranes died during an hour-long stay of the HT team at the colony of cranes on Sunday. Birds fell unconscious before dying.

A few days back, forest range officer Jeeta Singh had collected some of the dead birds. However, no postmortem was conducted to find out the reason behind their deaths.

On Saturday, some officials of wildlife department and doctors again collected dead cranes and a postmortem report has been promised in 24 hours.

It has been found that the villagers were not comfortable with the presence of a large number of birds near their village. "We have been facing problems of foul smell due to the large population of cranes for the last three years. It has become difficult to live here," said Amreek Singh.

"Reason of the deaths of the cranes will be known only once the postmortem report comes. Villagers say that most the young cranes die while taking their first flight from the top of the Kikar tree. But we are waiting for the postmortem report to know the exact reason," said Kulwant Singh, incharge wild life sanctuary, Abohar.

Locals are of the opinion that there was some problem in the food chain of the common cranes as there are paddy fields in the vicinity where pesticides are used in large scale.

People also have a suspicion that some miscreants could have added poison in the pond near the birds' colony.