BBP declares emergency after death of tiger cub
Published: Sunday, Sep 19, 2010, 10:50 IST
By Bosky Khanna Place: Bangalore Agency: DNA
While the death of four-year-old tigress Divya had sent shockwaves through the city, the death of another three-month old tigress cub was reported on Saturday morning.
This has not only put officials on the backfoot but has also forced them to declare an emergency.
The death of the cub was reported at 4am on Saturday and the carcass was taken to the Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals (IAHVB) for a postmortem, which revealed that the cub was suffering from an e.coli infection. This led to gastroenteritis and enteritis.
The three-month-old cub was not christened. The daughter of Gowri was still suckling like her other three siblings — two sisters and a brother. Interestingly, Gowri did not have the infection and was not showing any signs of illness. However, the deceased cub had a fever on Friday night and was dull and breathed her last atam. Gowri’s cage was 500 metres away from Anu’s (Divya’s mother) cage and also away from ten other ailing tigers.
It may be noted that cultural tests, postmortem and other tests on Divya also found that the tigress was suffering from salmonella and e-coli infection. Ten other tigers in the safari were suffering from the same infection. While the condition of the eight tigers has improved, Arya and Minchu (Divya’s siblings) are showing only minor signs of improvement and minor diarrhoea. They are eating little.
Speaking to DNA, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) BK Singh said that the death of the cub had put all of them in a state of shock and thus as a caution an emergency has been declared. “It has been declared as the situation has become critical. All officials, including myself and other experts, are in the park and constantly monitoring the animals. The veterinarians, caretakers and officials will be attending to the animals day and night and drips will be administered,” he said.
An emergency is declared when the situation is out of control and there are chances of the bacterial infection spreading to others.
The safari area has been infected and this is posing a danger to the other animals as well, and that is something the staff has been unable to handle, say sources.
The emergency was declared at noon on Saturday, after a high-level meeting of experts, veterinarians from IAHVB, BBP and the forest department.
Sources also added that another one-month-old tiger cub has died. But the death is still not confirmed officially. It could be a natural death.
Dr BC Chittiappa, assistant director of veterinary services at the BBP said that the death was due to e-coli infection, which caused the gastroenteritis. “Since it is now possible for other tigers to get the infection, extra care is being taken and an emergency has been declared. This is like an outbreak and so we have called for more experts to leave no scope for any more untoward incidents. The health of the other tigers is improving with the new medication, but Arya and Minchu are still slow to recover and the tigers are still terrified in the presence of humans,” he said.
He added that the same had happened about five years ago, when in the same situation five tigers had died. “We are hoping that the same does not happen and the situation is under control now,” he added.
According to experts, this is a critical situation and there are chances of the disease spreading further. But the BBP officials are not prepared due to lack of infrastructure and facilities.
Speaking to DNA, IAHVB Dr C Renukaprasad said that since there was no meat in the three-month-old cub, “we suspect that the mother could be carrying the bacterial infection”. While infected chicken was the cause of salmonella, now it has been ruled out. But contaminated beef cannot be ruled out.
An independent veterinarian and specialised pathologist Dr Azim Ulla said that three important things are playing a role here — improper management, lack of bio security and lack of hygiene.
He added that since the tigers are infected with salmonella and e-coli, there could be other micro toxins which the officials need to pay attention to. The staff should also ensure that the urroundings are clean and there are no other organisms around like wild birds, rodents or any thing else so that the further spread is curtailed.
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