No Anthrax bacteria in dead jumbo’s blood, poisoning suspected (Chennai, India)


P Oppili, Times of India

Date Published

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Anthrax has been ruled out as the cause of death of the female elephant whose carcass was found in Sirumugai Range in Coimbatore forest division on Monday.

Animal husbandry department veterinarians in Chennai confirmed to TOI that the blood samples taken from the dead elephant showed no strains of anthrax.

Wildlife veterinarian N S Manoharan, on deputation to the forest department, had earlier informed the media that the animal died due to anthrax. A senior veterinary officer conceded that the vet had jumped the gun by issuing the statement before the blood test was carried out.

The same vet had failed to detect the pregnancy of a female elephant a couple of months ago in the Coimbatore region and was giving treatment for an ailment before it delivered a calf.

Wildlife activists believe the elephant was poisoned citing previous instances. A large number of banana farms have appeared illegally in both Sirumugai Range in Coimbatore and the adjoining Bhavani Sagar Range in the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve. The farmers target elephants that stray close to their farms by lacing ba nanas and jackfruits with poison, they said. The activists blamed forest officials for not taking action against the encroachers despite being aware of the violations.

When contacted, chief wildlife warden V K Melkhani said following reports of increased elephant deaths, he was inspecting Aanamalai Tiger Reserve in Pollachi and other areas in the region. Asked specifically about the cause of death of the elephant, Melkhani said he had not seen the report yet, adding that elephants die due to drought conditions in many parts of the state.

A high level committee from the Union Ministry should inspect the spot and conduct a postmortem to bring out the truth behind the animal’s death, wildlife activists said.