The death of a few thousand ducks at the beginning of the breeding season has led to fear and apprehension among the farmers in Sylhet division.
The cause of the deaths is unknown.
At least 3,902 ducks have died since April 15 affecting almost 102 farmers in the area, according to livestock department officials.
Rubel Miah, a duck farmer in Sunamganj sadar upazila, has 2500 ducks he raises on the banks of Dekhar Haor in the district.
His ducks have so far survived the “unknown threat” but Miah lives in fear each day of what might yet happen.
“I am frightened as ducks are dying for unknown reasons after flash floods hit the haor areas. I tried to prevent my ducks from swimming in the deep haor water,” Rubel Miah told The Daily Star recently.
Miah breeds two farms of ducks which are his only earning source throughout the year.
Like Rubel, thousands of duck farmers in Sylhet division fear they might lose their ducks, but after almost a month of flash flood, some are hoping the worst is behind them now.
According to the Department of Livestock Services there are 3572 duck farms in Sylhet division among which 2707 are in Sunamganj, 457 in Habiganj, 292 in Moulvibazar and 116 in Sylhet district.
The livestock department considers a business as a farm only if it has at least a thousand ducks and there are thousands of smaller farmers in the haor areas which remain outside their purview because of the size of their business.
Mansur Ahmed, a duck farmer from Sylhet Sadar upazila, has been farming for 10 years. However, he remains a small farmer and fears losing his investment if the outbreak hits his farm.
According to the livestock department, duck farms are prone to duck cholera in this season when paddy plants are submerged in the haor for processing.
Md Giyas Uddin, Sylhet divisional deputy director of the Department of Livestock Services, said there was a sign of duck cholera outbreak in the haor areas recently but that situation was contained and the water now is safe for ducks.
However, many regular duck farmers have stopped farming and some didn't even start in fear of the “mysterious” deaths, he said.
“We are encouraging the farmers to resume farming,” Giyas said.