anthrax Archives - Rhino Review

Anthrax ruled out as cause of 4 rhino deaths (State of West Bengal, India)

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Pinak Priya Bhattacharya, The Times of India | February 24, 2020

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JALPAIGURI: The forest department has ruled out anthrax as the cause of four rhino deaths at Jaldapara national park last week.

“We sent viscera samples to Belgachhia lab and a private lab. The results were negative for anthrax,” a senior forester said.

The department has, however, stopped elephant safari in the park till Thursday to keep a watch on kunki elephants vaccinated over fears of an anthrax outbreak.

“The department needs to identify the disease and take measures at the earliest,” said environmentalist Shyama Prasad Pandey of Society for Protecting Ophiofauna and Animal Rights.


Rhino death zone in Jaldapara National Park quarantined (State of West Bengal, India)

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The Telegraph India | February 26, 2020

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The forest department has quarantined an area of around 3sqkm at Jaldapara National Park in Alipurduar district to prevent the spread of an infection that is suspected to have caused the death of five rhinos over the past week.

Foresters said no fresh deaths or illness has been reported in the past three days.

Last week, four rhinos were found dead at the Sishamara beat of the park. Another rhino carcass was found in the forest under the Malangi beat.

Original photo as published by Telegraph India: Forest guards in Jaldapara prepare to dart a rhino with arrows fixed with red markers for identification after vaccination (Picture courtesy: Bengal forest department)

“We have quarantined for 20 days the area at Sishamara where the carcasses were found. Our men are on vigil to prevent animals from getting into the area. Also, temporary energised fences will be erected to stop the movement of animals. All the six rhinos spotted in the area have been vaccinated, along with the pet elephants,” said Kumar Vimal, the divisional forest officer of Jaldapara.

Although the infection is yet to be identified, the anthrax spore vaccine has been administered, according to forest officials.

According to him, sanitisation of the stretch has begun. “Our men are spraying formalin and lime in the forest. After that, we will carry out a controlled burning of the grass, which is yet another preventive measure to stop the infection from spreading. The fence will be installed after that,” he added.

Seventeen other rhinos that have been seen close to the affected area have also been vaccinated and have been marked with red paints for identification. In Jaldapara, the rhino population is around 250.

Another forest official said when asked why only the rhinos at Sishamara have been vaccinated, said: “If an herbivore of any other species is found ill or its carcass is found with similar symptoms, vaccinations will be done immediately.”

Rajib Banerjee, the state forest minister, said they had decided to constitute a veterinary unit for wild animals with a pathological lab at Madarihat, the entry point to Jaldapara.

“The unit will be of help in many ways, and particularly during situations such as those that we encountered last week,” Banerjee over phone.

With no new deaths being reported since Sunday, the department has planned to conduct a herbivore count next month.

“The department has decided to conduct a herbivore count across the forests of the state from March 12 to March 14. After the deaths of rhinos in Jaldapara, we were a bit apprehensive about whether to go ahead or postpone it here. But now that no new deaths due to the infection has been reported, we will go ahead with the exercise,” Vimal said.


Bengal Forest Dept begins vaccinating rhinos and captive elephants after deaths of 5 rhinos (India)

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Shubham Bose, Republic World | February 24, 2020

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The Jaldapara National Park in Jalpaiguri district has recently announced the deaths on five Asiatic one-horned rhinos within a span of 4 days. According to reports, the rhinos in the area, as well as captive elephants, are being vaccinated against anthrax while the authorities await the autopsy report from the 5 dead rhinos.

Original photo as published by Republic World. (Pixabay)

Drones and Elephants Used to Patrol the Forest

According to sources, samples from the dead rhinos have been sent to veterinary facilities and the results from them are awaited. Sources have claimed that Ravi Kant Sinha, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, has been advised to give the animals vaccines for anthrax and not to take any chances.

According to state Forest Minister Rajib Banerjee, a postmortem of the five rhinos was conducted and samples from them were sent to Bareilly and Kolkata and its results are awaited. Meanwhile, the forest officials have reportedly fenced off parts of the national park in an effort to not let domesticated animals into the park. The villagers close to the park have also been advised to not take their animals to the national park for grazing.

Reports suggest that the forest officials have even deployed drones, as well as forest guards that are mounted on trained elephants in order to patrol the jungle and check for sick or dead animals.

Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife, North), Ujjal Ghosh said that the forest staff has been put on high alert and that they have started vaccinating rhinos within a 1-kilometre radius to where the rhino carcasses were found. Even the captive elephants that are used for patrolling have been vaccinated. The officials have also initiated an awareness campaign for the villagers in the surrounding area.

Situated in the foothills of Eastern Himalayas in Alipurduar subdivision in north Bengal, Jaldapara National Park is spread over an area of 141 square kilometres and the main attraction of the park is the one-horned rhino. It has been reported that there are 280 rhinos in West Bengal and 250 of them are in Jaldapara.