A sub-adult tusker was found dead under mysterious circumstances in Mayurbhanj district on Wednesday evening. The carcass of the male elephant, aged about eight, was spotted in Tungudu reserve forest near Judia village under Bisoi range.
Rairangpur DFO S K Swain said the elephant was seen roaming in Judia village close to Tungudu reserve forest for the last couple of days. No injury mark was spotted and the tusks were intact.
The officials have collected blood samples and sent it to Animals Disease Research Institute (ADRI) in Cuttack. “Cause of the death can be ascertained once we receive the test report,” he said.
While this year’s first death of elephant due to anthrax was confirmed in Karanjia, recently another elephant carcass with no injury mark was found near Ambapani canal under Dukura range. Forest officials are worried as four elephants, particularly in Dukura range, have died of anthrax in the last couple of years which indicates that vaccination of animals done by the veterinary officials has not been foolproof.
Animals can contract anthrax bacteria as the spores manage to survive in the soil even after burial of an infected carcass. The bacillus anthracis does not get destroyed easily which is why a stringent protocol for disinfection must be adopted, said wildlife lover Vanoo Mitra Acharya.
Although anthrax infection in other wildlife sanctuary has been reported in different parts of the country, its reoccurrence among elephants in the district where Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) is located is a matter of concern.
Deputy Director of STR Ajit Kumar Satpathy admitted that so far five elephants have died of anthrax in the district.
“But we can’t confirm these cases as we are yet to get the test reports. Veterinary officials have been asked to carry out vaccination drive in forest-side villages to control the disease,” he added.