In the western state of Gujarat – where the temperature has hovered above 40C for weeks now and is set to touch 46C in several pockets – rescuers are coming across birds that have fallen from the sky every day.
The impact of the excrutiating heat on animals has been neglected so far, even as humans suffering from heatstrokes and dehydration are being treated in hospitals where separate wards for heatwave-related conditions are being set up in several areas of the state.
Conditions have deteriorated significantly for animals because this year’s heat is “one of the worst in recent times,” according to rescuers working in an animal hospital managed by nonprofit Jivdaya Charitable Trust in Gujarat.
“We have seen a 10 per cent increase in the number of birds that need rescuing,” Manoj Bhavsar, who works closely with the trust and has been rescuing birds for more than a decade, told the Reuters news agency.
Activists have been picking up these birds and taking them to the trust-run hospital to provide immediate care, including injecting water into their mouths using syringes and feeding birds multi-vitamin tablets.
Extreme hot spells, or heatwaves, began much earlier in India and Pakistan this year, with the first spell recorded as early as March.
Heatwaves in the subcontinent are usually reported either in May, or in some instances, in April.
While the change in the pattern of heatwaves becoming stronger and longer stems from several reasons, the underlying cause for this extreme weather event is climate change.
Additional reporting by agencies