Cyprus probes mystery lake flamingo deaths

NICOSIA (Reuters) – Wildlife authorities in Cyprus are investigating whether a mystery virus or lead poisoning is to blame for the unexplained deaths of more than 20 flamingos in the past week, an official said yesterday. Cyprus hosts thousands of the birds in its salt marshes each year, and the deaths of about 25 of them in recent days have worried wardens who have started monitoring the lagoons around the clock. All the deaths have occurred in the Larnaca salt lake, next to the island’s main airport. Lead poisoning, either from jet fumes or a nearby shooting range, or disease are being investigated as possible causes of the deaths. «What we saw doesn’t suggest lead poisoning, but possibly a virus,» said Pantelis Hadjiyerou, head of the island’s Game and Wildlife Service. «We have not experienced anything like this before.» Every winter up to 2,000 birds, which live up to 50 years, cluster in the lake.