Another female elephant was found dead near a waterbody at Karlapat Wildlife sanctuary in Odisha’s Kalahandi district, a forest official said.
With the latest jumbo death, six elephants five female and a calf – have died at Karlapat Wildlife sanctuary within 14 days of this month, the official said.
According to the 2018 census the sanctuary had 17 elephants.
Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Kalahandi South Division Ashok Kumar and his team and veterinary doctors are camping in the area undertaking surveillance. “The death of elephants is due to Haemorrhage Septicemia (HS),” the DFO said.
However, the DFO said that there was no such report about the death of other animals in the sanctuary and also the cattle entering the forest from nearby villages.
Coordinator from Centre for Wildlife Health, OUAT (Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology), Bhubaneswar, Niranjan Sahu after visiting Karlapat sanctuary said: “The death of elephants is believed to be by HS. The post-mortem report and laboratory report of one dead elephant is hinting at HS (Haemorrhage Septicemia).
Cattle do get infected by HS if not vaccinated, Mr Sahu said, adding that this is perhaps the first incident where elephants are also infected with HS.
He said vaccination of domesticated cattle in the villages located inside the sanctuary and sanitization is in progress by veterinary staff supported by forest staff.
Chief District Veterinary Officer (CDVO) Dr Chaitanya Sethi said that as of now there is no reported death of domesticated cattle in the area due to HS. During October there was vaccination but in view of the present scenario further vaccination cover is in progress by veterinary staff now.
Local people and wildlife lovers, however, do not take the incident lightly. Pramod Kumar Singhdeo, a local from Karlapat belonging to the erstwhile Zamindar family of Karlapat and having in-depth knowledge on the flora fauna of the locality, said: “The forest department has dug salt ponds in different places to provide salted drinking water to the wild animals.”
The possibility of poachers poisoning some ponds to kill wild animals cannot be ruled out, he said demanding an investigation into the matter.
“The water from the salt ponds should be sent for laboratory analysis to ascertain the fact. It may also happen that the cattle infected with HS might have transmitted infection in the salt pond which affected the elephants also,” he said.
However, forest department officials rejected the second argument saying that no domestic cattle is found to have the HS infection.
Another local person claimed that though the forest department had earlier installed CCTV Cameras in several spots to monitor movement of wild animals, those were removed for unknown reasons.
Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over 175 square kilometre area and is famous for lush green dry deciduous forest, varieties of flora and fauna and animals like, elephant, leopard, Gaur, Sambar, barking deer, Indian wolf, wild dog, wild pig, sloth bear, Malbar giant squirrel and Pangolin.
This apart a variety of birds like peafowl, peacock, hornbill, Red jungle fowl, partridges, Spurfawl, Hill Myna, Brahminy kite and reptilian fauna includes Mugger, crocodile, monitor lizard, snakes both poisonous and non-poisonous are found in the sanctuary.
The forest consists of flora like Sal, Bija, Asan, Harida, Amala, Bahada and Bamboo and varieties of medicinal plants.
This sanctuary was first notified in 1969 by the conservator of Forest and was formally notified under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 in 1992. The undulated topography of the sanctuary, with hills, valleys and perennial streams including Sagada river and its tributaries with deep water pools in places gives it a unique charm, officials said.
There are several small and big waterfalls inside the sanctuary like Phurlijharan, Ghusrigudi, Dumnijhola, Kamalajharan, Koyirupa, Kuang and Raja Rani.
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