Wildlife conservationists have demanded an investigation into the deaths of 18 elephants in Odisha, India. During the last two years, citing data obtained under the Right To Information (RTI) that implies they could not have died of anthrax as previously thought.
Biswajit Mohanty, a wildlife conservationist who filed an RTI application with Phulnakhara’s Animal Disease Research Institute (ADRI), mentioned the data revealed that solely 2 of the tissue samples of the 20 examined positive for the bacterial disease. ADRI discovered that the deaths of solely 2 elephants within the Hadagada forest range of Keonjhar forest division in May 2018 might be ascribed to anthrax.
Mohanty mentioned by citing anthrax because the cause, officers eliminated the necessity to perform correct autopsies and investigation for another reason for demise. “The bodies had either cremated or deep burials. This had carried out on the basis of suspicion of anthrax with out even waiting for a preliminary test report .,” Mohanty mentioned anthrax has turn into a convenient cause to cover up foul play or unnatural causes of deaths.
Mohanty has now lodged a criticism with Odisha’s chief wildlife warden.
Elephants Caught Anthrax Disease
Anthrax is an infectious zoonotic disease by Bacillus anthracis bacteria. Cattle, sheep, goats, horses, mules, and elephants can catch the disease. They can catch it once they come in contact with contaminated soil, plants, or water. The disease would also transmit from animals to people.
In Odisha, officials have blamed anthrax for the deaths of 20 elephants between April 2017 and June 2020. They embrace a female elephant, whose carcass was present in Gayalmunda forest in Keonjhar district in 2019.
Mohanty wondered how might the state wildlife officers have missed the mysterious absence of anthrax infections. Among different wildlife species in addition to cattle within the space whereas elephants continued to die. “Except there’s correct and truthful reporting of reason for deaths of elephants, the safety of our national heritage animal in Odisha is critically imperiled.”
Mohanty mentioned elephant carcasses have cremated or buried after their deaths of suspected anthrax. This happened during the last 10 months as well in Rairakhol, Keonjhra, and Angul forest divisions. Their tissue samples had neither despatched to ADRI nor to the veterinary college of Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology, he added.
In January, the Union environment ministry revised its standard operating procedures (SOP) on anthrax deaths of wild elephants after a 4-year-old elephant has suspected to die of the illness in Sambalpur district.
The Elephant Mortality Rate is Rising Alarmingly
As per the SOP, the chief wildlife warden has vested with the general authority of investigation such deaths under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The SOP had laid down guidelines for the constitution of a group to supervise the evaluation and disposal of elephant carcasses suspected to contaminate with anthrax.
Wildlife activist Aditya Panda mentioned the RTI documents have raised questions on the wildlife authorities. Moreover makes an attempt of attributing most elephant deaths to anthrax with out going via the correct process. “It must be investigated how these elephants had died. The government owes everybody a clarification,” he mentioned.
Chief wildlife warden, HS Upadhyay, mentioned anthrax has very apparent signs. “And in all instances, it’s certified by native veterinary surgeons. So, the accusation of misreporting is wrong.”
In Odisha, the elephant mortality rate is rising alarmingly. The average deaths yearly, which had been 33 from 1990 to 2000, elevated to 46 from 2000 to 2010. Since 2010, the average has been 78.
As many as 463 elephant deaths had recorded from 2000 to 2010. The number grew sharply to 784 from 2010 to 2020. Of the 784 deaths within the last 10 years, 281 (36%) elephants died of unnatural causes. In 160 (20%) instances, the causes of demise couldn’t be ascertained primarily as a result of their bodies had been extremely decomposed.
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