Worst is now behind the Bannerghatta big cats, say experts
Published: Saturday, Sep 18, 2010, 10:55 IST
By Bosky Khanna Place: Bangalore Agency: DNA
Even though the tigers at the Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP) that had been infected with the salmonella bacteria this week seemed to have developed resistance to medication, they are now showing signs of improvement.
A series of tests conducted by the Institute of Animal Health and Veterinarian Biologicals (IAHVB) had confirmed that resistance to the course of medication had set in. The test results also showed that the tigers were suffering from e-coli bacterial infection as well.
They had earlier been diagnosed as infected with the salmonella bacteria.
On Friday, assistant director of the Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP) (veterinarian services), Dr BC Chittiappa, said that the condition of all the 10 tigers under treatment is improving. Two tigers had shown acute loss of appetite, while one had continued to suffer from diarrhoea.
Anu, the tiger with diarrhoea, found relief on Friday. Arya and Minchu, the tigers that had refused food, on Friday ate around three kg of meat each. Their regular diet is nearly 13 kg of beef. Curiously,the animals only ate at night. It was surmised that they are irritated by the constant human presence.
The medication regimen that was being followed until Thursday was altered on Friday, on the advice of veterinarians from IAHVB. Blood tests will be conducted to ascertain the efficacy of the fresh course of medication.
There is risk of the bacterial infection spreading through waste disposal, or through scavengers or rodents feeding on infected meat. Guidelines have been issued for cleaning up enclosures with disinfectants.
A three-year-old safari tigress, Divya, died after being infected by salmonella bacteria on Sunday night. Arya, Surya, Razia, Vinay, Shreyas, Sindhu, Inchara, Minchu, Anu, (all safari tigers) and Rocky (a Sumatran tiger at the Born Free Foundation Centre within the BBP) were also later found to be infected.
Chittiappa said that e-coli infection was also detected, and this too could be caused by contaminated food and water.
MN Jaykumar, member secretary of the zoo authority of Karnataka, said that precautions were being taken to prevent the spread of the infection to humans. Strict orders have been issued to disallow anyone but caretakers from coming near the animals. He added that it was still too early to comment on the results of the newly administered drugs.
Dr Thopsie Gopal, former head of the Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals, who is currently advisor on animal emerging infectious diseases with the Asia Nature Conservation Foundation (ACNF), said proper disposal of faecal matter of the animals is necessary, to control infection.
Meanwhile, the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has expressed concern and offered all help to the BBP. Member secretary of the CZA, BS Bonal, said that additional support in the form of funds and trained staff could be provided, in case such a request is made by the state government.
Principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), BK Singh said that a response has already been sent to the queries posed by officials at the Centre. He explained that two lions, Shankar and Lakshman, died of causes related to old age. A Siberian tiger, King, had also succumbed to multiple organ failure at the ripe age of 21. Divya, the three-year-old tigress, was the only one that died of salmonellainfection.