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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Bhawanipatna: In another exercise to contain the spate of elephant deaths at Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary in Kalahandi district, the forest department of Odisha has started using drone cameras in the range to track the movement of the jumbos.

“The deployment of drones will be useful for the forest officials to mount surveillance over the jumbos and their tracks,” said Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Shashi Paul.

“The drones will be fitted with thermal sensing cameras which would detect the body temperature of the elephants and help us diagnose their disease. We have also placed bananas laced with antibiotics at various places in the forest. The track cameras will help us to find out the elephants consuming the bananas and monitor the impact of the antibiotics on them,” said Paul.

In the first and maximum ever elephant die-offs in the wild in the State, as many as six pachyderms have succumbed to the killer bacteria- Hemorrhagic Septicemia in last two weeks.

According to sources, the forest department personnel are trying to keep the un-impacted group away from the ones which have been hit by the bacterial disease.

“Generally the female elephants move together in a herd and they seem to have been infected by the bacterial disease. We are trying our best to contain the spread and keep a close watch on the infected water bodies,” said another forest official adding that there is a chance of the spread from cattle.

“The veterinary staffs with support from forest officials are vaccinating the domestic cattle in the villages located inside the sanctuary. We have also alerted the villagers about the outbreak. However the major challenge for us is to keep the infected elephant herd from coming in contact with other herds and animals,” he added.

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