Baby elephant’s death in Palamu tiger reserve triggers anthrax fear (India)


Hindustan Times

Date Published

The death of a three-year-old male elephant in Baresanrh range, considered to be the prime elephant habitat in Palamu Tiger Reserve, has triggered fears of anthrax spreading through wild animals in the state’s lone game reserve.

The national park authorities came to know about the carcass of the elephant, which was lying near Goreya Semar in Compartment-9 of the Baresanrh range of the reserve on Tuesday, nearly a week after the pachyderm’s death.

A team of officials, including divisional forest officer (buffer) Mahalinga and local rangers rushed to the spot and found the body in a highly decomposed state. The post mortem of the body, as mandated by the standard operating procedure to ascertain the possible reasons for death, could not be done as veterinary doctor Harelal Mahato declared the body to be unfit for the same.

The Palamu reserve does not have any veterinary doctors in on its roll; Mahato was called in from the local government veterinary hospital. The forest officers then buried the carcass at the spot.

”It seemed that the baby elephant had died a week ago. We were informed late. It was male aged nearly three years,” Mahalinga said. He, however, did not share any speculations over the reason for the elephant’s death. However, forest officials said the animal’s carcass bore no injury marks and its trunk was intact.

Elephant expert and member of the state wildlife board Dr DS Srivastava said, “As the carcass bore no injury marks, it might have died of some disease, probably spread by the domestic buffaloes who roam freely in the wild even in the highly sensitive core areas of the reserve.”

“The rampant grazing by herds of buffalo, if allowed to continue unabated, can wreck havoc for the elephant population in the reserve,” Dr Srivastava said. “These buffalos are the prime carriers of diseases like anthrax that can prove deadly to over 130 elephants in the reserve.”

The forest officials, however, did not reply to queries in this regard.