The death of hundreds of bats in several states of India, including Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, is haunting villagers, who think of it as an ominous sign of the onset of something dreadful.
The panic among the locals and the scale at which the deaths of the nocturnal creatures were reported forced authorities to spring into action and conduct sample tests on carcasses and swabs of the dead mammals.
Dead bats found in #UttarPradesh's Gorakhpur, Ballia, & Mirzapur areas, creating panic amidst people. Locals say hundreds of bats are dying each day in the orchards & the forest areas. The carcasses have been sent for tests pic.twitter.com/0wXuwfDAV9— Mirror Now (@MirrorNow) May 27, 2020
Deaths of a large number of bats with no physical signs of trauma were reported from Belghat area of Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh on 26 May. The locals stated that as many as 52 bats dropped dead within an hour in one area sending the villagers into panic.
"We have experienced heatwaves earlier too and deaths on such a large scale have never taken place earlier. Besides, who keeps water for bats? There is something wrong about this though the officials are trying to downplay the issue. How can 52 bats drop dead within an hour?" a local Ashok Varma told the media.
In a similar incident on 26 May, the same day as the incident happened in Uttar Pradesh, the animal husbandry department of Bihar confirmed the death of around 200 bats near Ara in Bhojpur district. A team of doctors visited the area and collected the samples of the dead nocturnal creatures for testing.
Ballia: Many bats were found dead in Vishunpur village yesterday. District Forest Officer Shraddha Yadav said, "We will collect samples of dead bats and sent them for testing to ascertain the reason behind their death. Our field staff has found 10-20 carcasses of bats". pic.twitter.com/dHplihWVqm— Green Planet News (www.greenplanetmagazine.in) (@GreenPlanetMag1) May 28, 2020
The ‘Science’ Says
The forest officials and the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) said that prima facie it appears the bats have died in Uttar Pradesh due to excessive heat while the investigations are underway.
Pesticides used on mango trees also emerged as a reason for suspicion amongst the investigating authorities.
A red alert of the heatwave was issued in northern Indian states on 25-26 May as the mercury soared to 47.5 degrees Celsius in Rajasthan’s Churu.