Saturday, March 6, 2021

so near and yet so far .. .. Washington Sundar stranded at 96*


Sure, you rode a bi-cycle in your life… as all of us know, it is the roller chain that transfers power from the pedals to the back wheel, driving the cycle forward ~ and as could be seen the pedal has teeth … is it the available teeth or those missing teeth that moves the cycle forward ?  Year 2021 has been great for this 21 year old .. .. yet, would this youngster remember this day for the runs he made or the ones he missed ?

At Ahmedabad, after bowling out England for 205,  Indians were struggling at 146/6 .. .. then  Sundar and Pant came together !    Pant was classy, rule for thyself as he  reverse-swept Anderson from the line of the stumps, falling away to the leg side as he did so, and watched the ball fly over the leaping first slip fielder. It was audacious, it was gloriously disrespectful, and it was in every way what we've come to expect from Pant.  Pant scored a glorious 100 in the circumstances ensuring Indian lead.  At Close of play, Washington Sundar 60* and Axar Patel were together.

One may remember that 1st Test at Colombo in Sept 1985 – a drawn match.  India made : 218 & 251- while Lankans made  347 & 61/4 as also that famous Chepauk Pongal Test in 1975.  .. .. reasons !!

Steve Waugh (10); Rahul Dravid (10); Sachin Tendulkar (90); Michael Slater (9); Alwin Issac Kalicharan (8), AB de Villiers (8); Inzamam ul Haq (8) top that list – players with highest 90s.  Getting a ton is every batsmen’s dream.  Some one getting out in 90s is sad but getting stranded at 90s is sadder still.

‘nervous nineties’ is oft heard in Cricket.  It is a sort of  analysis paralysis, felt by a batsman when he has scored more than 90 runs in an innings, and is nervous because of the pressure and desire to convert it to a milestone century.   Batsmen tend to bat in a more conservative manner when they are close to their century, in order to avoid getting out and thus missing out on the milestone. Batsmen dismissed on 99 are considered the unluckiest of the nervous nineties victims.  Fielders could be sledging, opposing Captain would make changes in the field, bowling and do all that to distract, delay and get the batsman out – and sometimes, your own team could fail you.   

On day 3, just before lunch - Washington Sundar was left agonisingly short of a maiden Test hundred but his unbeaten 96 helped India to carve out a dominant position in the fourth Test. Team India  lost their last three wickets without adding to the score, by that stage their first-innings lead over England had swelled to 160… .. and Washie was stranded at 96 in 174 balls with 10 fours and 1 six !  In his very short Test Career thus far (4 tests in 2021) he has seen in all – a good 62 in 1st innings at Brisbane; cameo 22 and getting out to a bad shot in 2nd at Brisbane when India won; 85* in tough circumstances at Chepauk; 0 & 0 at Ahmedabad in 3rd test and 96* running out of partners today.  

Today there was no drama, India was increasing its lead with both Sundar and Axar looking composed and making runs in their 8th wicket stand of 106.   Axar made 43 [statistically scoring more runs than his test wickets now at 22 !!] ..  suddenly in a gush – Patel was out of crease looking for a non-existent single, Jhonny Bairstow caught him marginally out of crease.  Then .. .. Ishant Sharma was out for a first ball duck to Ben Stokes and as one feared the worst, Mohammed Siraj was castled for a duck leaving Sundar stranded at 96 not out.

It was sad to watch Sundar nonplussed and not displaying any emotions at all as he acknowledged the applause on his way back to pavilion.  India has a good lead but that 4 runs were elusive !  

Getting back to that Colombo test in 1985, Dilip Vengsarkar was unbeaten on 98* when Indians were bowled out.  Then at Kandy in Aug 2001, Sourav Ganguly too was stranded at 98* .. .. and there was this classy 97* by Gundappa Viswanath at Chepauk on 11th Jan 1975.  Any reference to Test No. 752 will flood memories of that  classy knock of Gundappa Viswanath -  great bowling of Andy Roberts and the defeat (100 runs at that) suffered by Clive Lloyd against Pataudi led Indians in 1975.  Those days Pongal tests were great festivities and tension would build up couple of days before the match – India opening with Eknath Solkar and FArokh Engineer – lost both and were 24/2; Gaekwad went cheaply, so did MAK Pataudi; (41/4); Ashok Mankad hooked Roberts -  at 76/6 Mankad and Madanlal too gone, Vishy had only the tail – whether it was Andy Roberts 20.5-5-64-7 or the fluent 97 n.o. of Vishy that was brilliant will be an endless debate.  Roberts was to take another 57/5 in the second innings too. 

Well played Sundar .. ..sure you would get to that maiden Test hundred sooner !


With regards – S. Sampathkumar


Thursday, March 4, 2021

Nation inoculates its people - vaccines made available to citizens easily

I love My Nation – Mera Bharat Mahan hai ! .. .. I appreciate and thank millions of Health workers; I appreciate TN Govt, CM, Health Minister and Health Secretary.  I thank and appreciate our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji, our Central Govt and officials for the way they have handled Corona.  Initially there were reports that rich countries with their improved medical care and riches would handle Covid well, while 3rd world countries would find it extremely to contain the spread and provide health care for its citizens.

India has with the strategic plans, implementation and strict lockdown in the initial days has contained Corona well.  .. .. now Vaccines have come and the way India is handling it – distributing life-saving drugs to so many countries and in seamless distribution across the Country has really stood out.  The world's largest vaccination drive in India, which began on January 16, has cumulatively inoculated over 1.63 crore people, as of March 3. President Ram Nath Kovind,  Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji, Mr Rajnath Singh, aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri,  and the likes of veteran cricketer Kapil Dev were also administered the first dose of Covid-19 vaccines.

For so many decades – life was simple – individuals had their own problems but collectively we only thought of inflation, price rise, and something like that .. 2020 changed the way, the Globe thought and lived !  ..  Corona .. threatened humanity as it wiped out millions.   The sixth edition of the Pakistan Super League has been postponed after a spate of positive Covid-19 tests - as many as seven players or officials have now returned positive tests in less than a week. Last season, as the pandemic began, the league had to cut short its fifth season, although it rescheduled the remaining matches and staged them in November 2020. This season has seen instances gradually build before the dramatic events of today eventually forced the tournament to be suspended, with less than half of its 34 games completed. Here is a timeline of how events came to a head.

Tamil Nadu recorded 489 positive cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the state tally to 8,52,967. Among these, Chennai reported 184 positive cases, bringing the city’s total to 2,36,072. The state recorded two deaths on Wednesday, putting the state toll at 12,504. Both of them had succumbed due to comorbidities. A total of 494 patients were discharged following treatment, taking the total number of recoveries to 8,36,473. Ever imagined these numbers a few months back ? ? ?

Globally 11,51,28,349 people had been affected by Covid 19 with 25,58,059 deaths.  USA tops the list with 2,88,04,121 / 5,18,079; followed by India 1,11,56,923/ 1,57,435; Brazil 1,07,18,630 / 2,59,271; Russia, 42,30,705/85,901; United Kingdom  41,94,785/ 1,23,783 deaths. Globally, the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) has affected more than 115 million people, as per the John Hopkins Covid-19 tracker.

Miles away, the UK vaccine programme has entered the second part of its first phase after everyone in the first four priority groups - those aged 70 and over, care home residents, healthcare workers and people required to shield - were offered a jab by mid-February. The rollout is now being expanded to include those aged 60 and above and those with underlying health conditions. The rest of the over-50s will follow, with the government aiming to offer everyone in priority groups five to nine a jab by 15 April.

Across the globe, as could be read and understood, it is so tough to get vaccination.  In UK – one needs to complete   vaccine request form, and get added to the database of those requesting to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.     The database will allow Health authorities to  send invitations for vaccine appointments based on the recommended phased distribution.  Each day, UK HealthCare will assess the individual requests based on their priority as outlined above. Once your request is prioritized, you will receive your invitation and will be able to select a date and time to receive your vaccine.

Back home the Union Govt with its strategic management has ensured that vaccines are available for the masses and that too free in Govt centres; at a very low cost in nominated Private hospitals.  The COVID vaccine was launched on 16th January, 2021. The first group was intended only for  healthcare and frontline workers. The second group was to be persons  over 60 years of age as of January 1st, 2022 and persons between 45 and 59 years with comorbid conditions. This group  became eligible for vaccinations from March 1st 2021

.. .. .. and now it is so freely available in Chennai that I just walked in and had my jab within half an hour. Today I walked in to a Corporation Health Centre – it was so well organized and such a simple process.  Walk in with Aadhar and another ID proof – for 60+ that completes the process.  For 45 – 59 some proof of their comorbidity, as simple as a medical prescription .. .. .. few minutes of waiting, 2 second painless jab, 10 tablets of Paracetamol (in case one gets fever or pain), 30 mins of waiting and .. .. .. need for another visit after 28 days for the 2nd dose .. .. can it be more simple anywhere else in the World.

Vaccination for COVID-19 is voluntary. However, it is advisable to receive the complete schedule of COVID-19 vaccine for protecting one-self against this disease and also to limit the spread of this disease to the close contacts including family members, friends, relatives and co-workers.  More than 1.63 crore people have received  coronavirus vaccine in India so far. While there has been no case  of  any adverse effect on anyone, some recipients have reported some side-effects or mild illness. A large number of experts have underlined that these are expected in a small number of cases — and that these ought not to dissuade people from taking the shot.  Dr Shashank Joshi, member of Maharashtra’s Covid-19 task force, said both the vaccines being used in India, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Serum Institute of India’s Covishield, a version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, are absolutely safe — and minor side-effects are expected in some cases, not just for these particular vaccines, but any other vaccine as well.

Here is some do’s and don’t’s  extracted from the Indian Express of date :

Before vaccination

·         In case a person has allergies to medication, or drugs, it is important to get an all-clear from a medical practitioner. A complete blood count (CBC), C-reactive protein (CRP), or Immunoglobulin-E (IgE) levels can be checked under medical advice.

·         One should eat well and take medicines, if prescribed, ahead of vaccination. One should try to be as relaxed as possible; counselling can help people who are feeling anxious.

·         People with diabetes or blood pressure need to keep these in check. Cancer patients, especially those on chemotherapy, must act on medical advice.

·         People who have received blood plasma or monoclonal antibodies as part of Covid-19 treatment, or those who have been infected in the last one and a half months are advised to not take the vaccine right now.

After vaccination

·         A recipient of the vaccine is monitored at the vaccine centre itself to guard against any immediate severe allergic reaction. People are allowed to leave only after it has been ascertained that this is not the case.

·         Side effects like pain at the injection site and fever are common. This is no reason to panic. Some other side effects like chills and fatigue might also be expected, but these go away in a few days.


Vaccines teach our immune system how to recognise and fight an external threat — in this case, the virus that causes Covid-19. It typically takes a few weeks after vaccination for the body to build protection (immunity) against the virus.  This means that a person could still get infected by Covid-19 in the few days immediately following the vaccination, because the person would not have had enough time to develop immunity.  Therefore, basic precautionary measures must be followed even after vaccination. Face masks, hand hygiene, and physical distancing in public places must not be abandoned just because a vaccine has been taken. Cough/sneeze etiquette also needs to be followed.

Hail our Nation, Appreciate our front line fighters – the health workers, appreciate TN Health Dept (Minister, Secretary and others)- appreciate the State and Central Governments.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
~from a humble Nation loving citizen


Monday, March 1, 2021

Meetings .. .. .. from where you take the call does matter !!!

Life stands redefined since 2020 .. .. .. more specifically the way meetings were organized and people met have changed !!  .. first is a photo of Sunil Gavaskar meeting Sri Narendra Modiji and the second a zoom meeting – do you find any anomaly in the 2nd one [there is an obvious one !]



In every Corporate, meetings are inevitable -  the issues are intended to be discussed threadbare in the presence of all stake-holders; sometimes one might feel that more people will have to be included and thus the scope, time might get extended.  Sometimes people feel overwhelmed by the presence of superiors and sometimes people are afraid of talking in front of more knowledgeable persons. .. .. most of that changed as Covid 19 introduced to almost every one the need for keeping communication alive, even when people are not physically present.

The first key to successful conduct of any meeting is scheduling and planning its timing and agenda as also picking up the right stake-holders.  Meetings should be planned with a designated start and end time. Keeping meetings on a schedule is respectful to everyone involved and makes organization easier. When team members know that a meeting will end on time they can plan the rest of their day more effectively. Shorter meetings are usually more productive and when employees know that a meeting will end on time there is less temptation to get off task.

Many executives feel overwhelmed by meetings, and no wonder: by some statistics, on  average, they spend nearly 23 hours a week in them, up from less than 10 hours in the 1960s. What’s more, the meetings are often poorly timed, badly run, or both.  Jokes galore on how painful they are, say the authors, but that pain has real consequences for teams and organizations. Every minute spent in a wasteful meeting eats into solo work that’s essential for creativity and efficiency. Chopped-up schedules interrupt deep thinking, so people end up working late hours .. ..    there is another challenge, as many workplaces have opened up,   some workers easing back into in-house work and some remaining at home, leaders face yet another challenge: What steps can we take to ensure that both team members in the office and at home feel included and valued?

Whether it is in Office; whether it is a physical meeting or virtual - Effective office meetings need structure, order, and flow. Communicate properly before, during, and after meetings to get the most of your time and energy. Engage with your team members at every stage of the process – and ask for feedback on your meeting techniques.

Chaotic scenes from a parish council meeting that descended into farce have been shared far and wide on the internet, after clips of the hilariously charged Zoom call were shared to social media. The conference call between members of Handforth Parish Council held on 10 Dec 2020 started and ended  with councillors trading insults and getting booted from the call. It went  gone viral after clips of it were uploaded to Twitter; the name of one of the meeting’s participants – Jackie Weaver – became the fourth trending item  

May be around this time (Feb 2020) last year – not all would have experienced virtual meetings.  Now Covid 19 has driven the World from student community, teaching staff, Sports, Office, and every other establishment getting used (rather addicted) to the Virtual meeting culture.

Almost 3 decades ago – when we bought a Desktop Computer at home – MSN Messenger was the rage for talking to those in Foreign countries.  It was a technological marvel for us that we can talk on Computer instead of a phone ! .. the conversation would be a bit slow and at times heard with a time lapse .. yet it was a glorious roaring success and boon for most people.

MSN Messenger was  later rebranded as Windows Live Messenger -  was a cross-platform instant messaging client developed by Microsoft. It connected to the Microsoft Messenger service.  The client was first released as MSN Messenger Service on July 22, 1999, and was marketed under the MSN branding until 2005 when it was rebranded under Windows Live.  In June 2009, Microsoft reported the service attracted over 330 million active users each month, placing Messenger among the most widely used instant messaging clients in the world. Later with rampant usage of Mobiles, we were introduced to Skype -  a proprietary telecommunications application that specializes in providing video chat and voice calls between computers, tablets, mobile devices, the Xbox One console, and smartwatches over the Internet. Skype also provides instant messaging services. Users may transmit text, video, audio and images. Skype allowed video conference calls.  At one point in February 2012, there were 34 million users concurrently online on Skype.

Year 2020 was perhaps all about Zoom Meetings.  Zoom Video Communications, Inc. is an American communications technology company headquartered in San Jose, California. It provides video-telephony and online chat services through a cloud-based peer-to-peer software platform and is used for teleconferencing, telecommuting, distance education, and social relations. Eric Yuan, a former Cisco engineer and executive, founded Zoom in 2011, and launched its software in 2013 The company first became profitable in 2019, and completed an initial public offering that year. The company joined the NASDAQ-100 stock index on April 30, 2020. Beginning in early 2020, Zoom's software usage saw a significant global increase following the introduction of quarantine measures adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While many individuals were ‘Zoom’ing – Officials were engaged in Teams Meet. Microsoft Teams is a proprietary business communication platform developed by Microsoft, as part of the Microsoft 365 family of products. Teams primarily competes with the similar service Slack, offering workspace chat and videoconferencing, file storage, and application integration Teams is replacing other Microsoft-operated business messaging and collaboration platforms, including Skype for Business and Microsoft Classroom. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Teams has gained much interest as many meetings have moved to a virtual environment.

With this lengthy intro on Meetings and virtual platforms, read this interesting news in MailOnline.  A plastic surgeon attended his traffic court hearing over Zoom from the operating room as a patient went under the knife.

The California Medical Board is investigating after video emerged of the bizarre moment Dr. Scott Green appeared on video call from the operating theater on Thursday. Green appeared before Sacramento Superior Court Commissioner Gary Link’s virtual traffic courtroom in his surgical scrubs with the beeping of surgical machines behind him.

'Are you available for trial, it kind of looks like you're in an operating room right now?' a clerk of the court asks in the video posted by The Sacramento Bee. 'I am sir,' Green replies. 'Yes, I am available for trial.' All the while, doctors and medical equipment can be seen in the background of Green's video. Once the judge appears and the proceedings begin, Link quickly realizes where Green is standing.

'So, unless I’m mistaken, I’m seeing a defendant that’s in the middle of an operating room appearing to be actively engaged in providing services to a patient. Is that correct, Mr. Green?' 'Yes, sir,' Green responds, as the commissioner notes he should be referring to the defendant as 'Dr. Green.' 'I do not feel comfortable for the welfare of a patient if you’re in the process of operating on that I would put on a trial notwithstanding the fact the officer is here today,' Link continues, noting the officer from Green's alleged traffic incident is present. 'I have another surgeon right here who’s doing the surgery with me, so I can stand here and allow them to do the surgery also,' Green says. Link quickly replies, 'Not at all.'

He continues, 'I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s appropriate. I’m going to come up with a different date when you’re not actively involved or participating and attending to the needs of a patient. Let me see if I can get a different date here.'  'I apologize Your Honor to the court,' Green says. 'Sometimes surgery doesn't always go as...' before he trails off. 'It happens,' Link says. 'We want to keep people healthy. We want to keep them alive, that's important.' 'I’m concerned about the welfare of the patient based on what I’m seeing,' Link says as he tries to confirm a rescheduled court date of March 4 at 3pm.

Someone else temporarily commandeers Green's phone before they give it back to he can finish the court process in a breakout room.  The video was streamed live on the Sacramento Superior Court's YouTube page because traffic court proceedings are open to the public. The bizarre incident did draw the ire of the Medical Board of California, which controls licensing in the state and suggested that they received a complaint. 'The Medical Board of California expects physicians to follow the standard of care when treating their patients,' a spokesperson said to Law & Crime. 'The Board is aware of this incident and will be looking into it, as it does with all complaints it receives.' 

Zoom court proceedings have provided strange moments since the star of the pandemic. Earlier in February, a Texas lawyer went viral after a filter covered his face during a court case. 'I'm not a cat,' the lawyer clarified. In Peru, there was also an incident of a lawyer caught having sex during a Zoom after leaving his computer camera on.

Virtual reality !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

lead shotgun pellets in lake in Cyprus causing death of flamingos.

A large number of migratory Flamingo birds have flocked to Navi Mumbai in recent times.  Migratory birds were seen at the creek in Navi Mumbai. Every year thousands of flamingos migrate to Mumbai. The flamingos are believed to fly in from as far as Iran. Scores of flamingos at the creek is an eye-catching moment for the tourists.


சத்திமுத்தப் புலவர் சங்க காலப் புலவர்களில் ஒருவர்,  இவர் வறுமையால் தளர்வுற்று தம் ஊர்விட்டு அயலூர் சென்று ஒரு குட்டிச் சுவரின் அருகில் குளிருக்கு ஒதுங்கியிருக்கும் போது நாரை ஒன்று மேலே பறக்கக் கண்டு, வறுமையிலும் தன் பிரிவாலும் வருந்திக் கொண்டிருக்கும் தன் மனைவிக்கு அதைத் தூதாக அனுப்புவது போல் பாடிய பாடல் :

நாராய் நாராய் செங்கால் நாராய்

பழம்படு பனையின் கிழங்கு பிளந்தன்ன

பவளக் கூர்வாய் செங்கால் நாராய்  .. .... ..

அவ்வமயம் அங்கே நகர சோதனைக்கு வந்த மாறான் வழுதி என்ற அரசன் இச்செய்யுளைக் கேட்டு, நாரையின் மூக்கிற்குப் பல அறிஞர்களிடமும், நூல்களிடமும் உவமை காணாது தேடிக்கொண்டிருந்த போது பனங்கிழங்கின் உவமையைக் கேட்டுக் களிப்புற்று, தன் மீது போர்த்தியிருந்த  என்ற மேலாடையினை சாற்றி  மேலும் பல பரிசுகளையும் அவர்க்கு அளித்தான்.

பூநாரை  என்பது நாரை வகைப் பறவையாகும். கரையோரப் பறவையாகிய . இதன் அலகு அகலமாகவும், வளைந்தும் காணப்படும். நீண்ட முடியற்ற சிவந்த கால்கள் இதற்கு இருக்கும். சகதி நிறைந்த நீர்நிலைகளில் உணவு தேடும். மிதவை உயிரினங்கள், சிறிய மீன்கள், புழு, பூச்சிகளை அலகால் எடுத்து, வடிகட்டும். பிறகு உணவை விழுங்கிவிடும்.   செங்கால் நாரை எனப்படும் இதன் ஆங்கிலப் பெயரான "பிளமிங்கோ"  (flamingo)இலத்தீன் மொழியிலிருந்து வந்தது.


Ducks, Cranes, Pelicans and more….. or simply … white birds, ducks, the ones with blue tinge…. One need not be an expert – still one can enjoy the winged visitors for sure….. for those used to concrete jungles missing even the common sparrow, these birds are quite enrapturing.  One could perhaps be looking at - Osprey, Greater Flamingo, Northern Pintail duck, Pied Avocet, Common Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper Yellow Wagtail, Little Stint, Grey-headed Lapwing, Glossy Ibis …… or some of their ilk at the Pallikaranai marsh lands.

Flamingos  are a type of wading bird in the family Phoenicopteridae, the only bird family in the order Phoenicopteriformes. Four flamingo species are distributed throughout the Americas, including the Caribbean, and two species are native to Africa, Asia, and Europe. The greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) is the most widespread and largest species of the flamingo family. It is found in Africa, on the Indian subcontinent, in the Middle East, and in southern Europe. The greater flamingo was described by Peter Simon Pallas in 1811.  

Bird migration is the regular seasonal movement, often north and south along a flyway between breeding and wintering grounds, undertaken by many species of birds. Migration, which carries high costs in predation and mortality, including from hunting by humans, is driven primarily by availability of food. The Arctic Tern holds the long-distance migration record for birds, travelling between Arctic breeding grounds and the Antarctic each year. The timing of migration is controlled primarily by changes in day length. Migrating birds navigate using celestial cues from the sun and stars, the earth's magnetic field, and probably also mental maps.

Cyprus  is an island  nation in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. It is the third largest and third most populous island in the Mediterranean, and is surrounded by Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Syria, Greece and Turkey.   Nicosia is the country's capital and largest city.  Cyprus is home to some of the oldest water wells in the world. Cyprus was settled by Mycenaean Greeks in two waves in the 2nd millennium BC. As a strategic location in the Eastern Mediterranean, it was subsequently occupied by several major powers, including the empires of the Assyrians, Egyptians and Persians, from whom the island was seized in 333 BC by Alexander the Great.  Cyprus was placed under the UK's administration based on the Cyprus Convention in 1878 and was formally annexed by the UK in 1914.  Following nationalist violence in the 1950s, Cyprus was granted independence in 1960.  A separate Turkish Cypriot state in the north was established by unilateral declaration in 1983; the move was widely condemned by the international community, with Turkey alone recognising the new state. Cyprus is a major tourist destination in the Mediterranean.

Cyprus is a key stop on the migration path for many types of birds flying from Africa to Europe. The Larnaca Salt Lake, a wetlands network of four lakes, typically welcomes as many as 15,000 flamingos from colder climates to the southern coast of the island nation in the eastern Mediterranean. They stay through the winter and leave in March.  The government's Game and Fauna Service says in the first two months of last year, 96 flamingos were found dead in the Larnaca Salt Lake wetlands as a result of lead poisoning. Cyprus Veterinary Services official Panayiotis Constantinou, who has conducted autopsies on flamingos, said lead from the pellets poisoned the birds. The high number of deaths is mainly attributed to heavy winter rain two years ago that stirred up the lake sediment and dislodged embedded lead shot.

Alongside comes the news that Cyprus is  urged to ban hunting at coast to protect flamingoes from shotgun pellets as ingestion of lead shotgun pellets from bed of Larnaca Salt Lake blamed for rise in deaths of migrating flamingos. Conservationists in Cyprus are urging authorities to expand a hunting ban throughout a coastal salt lake network, amid concerns that migrating flamingos could swallow lethal quantities of lead shotgun pellets. Martin Hellicar, the director of Birdlife Cyprus, said flamingos were at risk of ingesting the tiny pellets lying on the lakebed as they fed. Like other birds, flamingos swallow small pebbles to aid digestion but cannot distinguish between pebbles and the lead pellets. 

Hunting is banned around most of the salt lake, but hunters are still allowed to shoot ducks in the network’s southern tip. The high number of death of flamingoes  is mainly attributed to heavy winter rain two years ago that stirred up the lake sediment and dislodged embedded lead shot. A sport shooting range near the lake’s northern tip closed nearly 18 years ago and authorities organised a cleanup of lead pellets in the lakebed there. But Hellicar said the cleanup was apparently incomplete. A European Union-funded study is under way to identify where significant amounts of lead pellets remain so they can be removed. Preliminary results of the study showed very high lead levels in the wetlands’ southern tip, and Hellicar said continued duck hunting there could compound the problem. “The problem is pronounced,” he said. “The danger is real for the flamingos and other birds that use the area.”

Alexandros Loizides, a Cyprus Hunting Federation official, said hunting in a 200-metre northern swath was not a problem, owing to the limited number of hunters. He said he was unaware of any flamingo deaths in the area and faulted pesticide and fertiliser runoff from nearby farms for creating any pollution problems hurting wildlife. A ban on the use of lead pellets near wetlands has been in force in Cyprus for several years. A similar, EU-wide ban took effect last month but conservationists believe the laws are not being enforced properly.

Man continues to be the biggest predator for most animals and birds !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar