Pakistan’s peacocks dying in droves

Posted on August 10, 2012

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The wild peacocks of Pakistan were dying in droves. Was the

Peafowl Peafowl (Photo credit: Ben Rimmer)

government covering it up?

That was the question Pakistanis were raising last week as reports persisted from the Thar desert area of southern Sindh province about peacocks whirling themselves to death in mad dances that appeared to have no earthly explanation.

By midweek, more than 120 peacock deaths had been reported — and the toll would keep rising — but the government would only acknowledge that 11 peacocks had died. Newspapers carried photos of children carrying corpses of the magnificently plumed fowl.

It turned out that the answer to the strange deaths was relatively simple: The peafowl were suffering from Newcastle disease, a contagious viral infection that causes dehydration, affects the brain and often causes the birds to spin.

Washington Post

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