Coppersmith Barbets found dead near Auroville, poisoning suspected

The carcasses of over 30 birds were found, and local residents have alleged that poachers killed them

Over 30 Coppersmith Barbets were found dead in front of a private property near the international township of Auroville on Monday.

Local residents and wildlife activists suspect the birds died due to poisoning, though the Forest Department authorities are yet to ascertain the reason behind the deaths.

Govinda, a resident of a property owned by Sri Aurobindo Ashram noticed the carcasses of a heap of birds lying outside the premises, under a banyan tree, on the main road.

“A few birds were writhing while the others had perished. The carcasses were found scattered on the main road in front of the property and within the premises. We immediately informed the Forest Department,” he said.

Local residents alleged that poachers who had killed birds had removed the carcasses that were lying on the road in the morning. The poachers were seen roaming in the area carrying slingshots, they said.

On information, a team of Forest Department officials led by Tindivanam Forest Ranger M. Babu rushed to the spot and held enquiries. The team also collected the carcasses of the birds and sent them to the Veterinary Hospital in Vanur for post-mortems.

“We are trying to find out if the birds died due to poisoning. The carcasses have been sent for post-mortems to ascertain the reason behind the deaths. The accused will be nabbed soon and they would be booked under the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972,” District Forest Officer Abhishek Tomar said.

According to a naturalist, “Prima-facie, it looks like a case of poisoning. The barbets are widespread residents and are predominantly frugivorous. The birds are found in small groups on Banyan and Peepal trees. The carcasses had no visible injury and it is suspected that the birds were poisoned,” he said.

Forest Department officials said that patrolling will be stepped up in the Auroville region following the incident.

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