The hasty killing of some 245 birds, considered rare species, at the TIA premises on March 30 raises doubts about the decision. The officials of Central Animal Quarantine Office (CAQO) have said they were compelled to do so to eliminate any possibility of the spread of bird flu. But no proper investigation was carried out to determine if the birds were actually infected by the H5N1 virus. The Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation authorities’ request to hand over the birds to them was rejected, too.

Reportedly, the birds were imported from Pakistan without proper legal documents. It is true that one has to obtain Animal Health Certificate from the country of origin of the birds, which makes that country responsible and answerable in case of any epidemic. The Animal Health and Animal Service Act 2055 prohibits import of endangered species without government approval. But the fact that the birds’ possessor, Ahned Shaikh Wahee, fled the TIA makes the case all the more suspicious. This is a case of bird smuggling, now flourishing in South Asia. In letting Wahee escape, the customs officials have lost an opportunity to expose the bird smuggling racket. The CAQO officials must be held responsible for this act of brutality since mere suspicion is no ground for wiping out the rare species.