• otv
Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Bhubaneswar: A killer bacteria is feared to be swarming through the forests of Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary in Kalahandi district where at least four elephants have been killed since last two weeks, prompting the State forest department to send an expert team to the protected area on Saturday.

According to reports, at least four female elephants have succumbed to a likely bacterial disease since February 1.

“A team from Centre for Wildlife Health of Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) will investigate the cause behind the deaths of the elephants and do the field analysis,” said District Forest Officer (DFO) Ashok Kumar.

Initially, anthrax as a cause has been ruled out because the symptoms are completely different.

“Post mortem of the dead elephants have been conducted and report is awaited. Laboratory test of the first elephant conducted in OUAT revealed that it was due to Haemorrhagic Septicaemia, an acute and highly fatal form of bacterial infection marked by fever, hyper-salivation, nasal discharge and difficult respiration. We have sent some samples to the Centre For Wildlife Laboratory to confirm the test report,” said Dharmananda Mohanty, Deputy Director of Wildlife Division, Kalahandi.

The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCCF) Shashi Paul said the test result of the first two elephants at the OUAT laboratory came out negative for anthrax.

“We suspect the infections likely happened from the elephants drinking the water contaminated by livestock in the nearby human settlements,” he said.

According to sources, waterbodies in the area are being sanitised and cattle are also being vaccinated to avoid the spread of the disease. Forest department officials have been asked to maintain high vigil and prevent elephants from straying into the region in view of chances of more such cases.

Villagers have been requested not to send their cattle to forest in view of the situation. Stagnant water is being treated with bleaching powder to avoid further spread and water samples from different spots are sent for testing.

(Edited by Rashmi Ranjan Mohanty)

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