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Vaccination drive of Jaldapara national park rhinos

Wednesday, Feb 26, 2020 09:45 [IST]

Last Update: Wednesday, Feb 26, 2020 04:02 [IST]

Vaccination drive of Jaldapara national park rhinos

SILIGURI: The West Bengal Forest department has started a vaccination drive at Jaldapara National Park after the death of five rhinoceros in last six days due to suspected anthrax virus.
The first carcass of a rhino was spotted at Sisamari beat on February 18 by the Forest employees and within 48 hours, four others were found dead in the same area.
Forest officials confirmed that major actions have been taken on ground and the situation has been under control. Though the confirmation report of anthrax has not yet arrived, but all symptoms are closest to it.
Atanu Raha, a retired PCCF and head of forest forces with West Bengal Forest department, said the last case of anthrax attack in North Bengal was in 1995. “Some chital had died. Cattle are the main propagates. Anthrax is a bacterial disease and has preventive vaccine. We had darted the rhinos in Jaldapara and Gorumara with the vaccines then.”
Biswajit Saha, the secretary of Association for Conservation & Tourism (ACT) Central Dooars Committee, who is coordinating the field on behalf of the organisation, informed that five rhinos have already died and few affected are provided with proper treatment.
According to Saha, the blood samples have been sent to Kolkata and till now, no confirmation of attack by anthrax has come. The virus might have spread from the domestic animals from nearby villages.
He added that the Sisumari beat from where the dead bodies were found has been isolated by covering all the sides by captive elephants to ensure no other animals enter the area. There are 78 captive elephants in the park usually used for patrolling duty.
Ujjwal Ghosh, North Bengal’s Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) said, “The rhinos were found dead between February 18 and 21 and have found no signs of foul play. According to initial investigation, veterinarians doubt about anthrax could have killed the animals but it has not yet confirmed.”
An officer requesting anonymity said that there are 13 rhinos in the area and have started vaccination and so far, five have been vaccinated with the help of dart guns.
There is a concern that if proper vaccination is not done to all the animals inside the park and other domestic animals of nearby villages, the disease could spread further.
Animesh Bose, programme coordinator of Himalayan Nature and Adventure Foundation, Siliguri said, “All animal loving organisations, animal resource development, local civic bodies, district administrations and other wildlife experts should join hands to vaccinate the cattle in the nearby villages of the park before it takes a serious problem.”
Jaldapara National Park is spread across 216.51 sq km and have 250 one-horned rhinos. In 1993, few rhinos were killed inside the park after and anthrax outbreak.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi