MYSORE: Anthrax scare has come back to haunt again this summer.
Though wildlife in the pristine forest of Nagarahole, Bandipur and BRT tiger reserves are unaffected this season, death of cattle on the forest fringes due to anthrax has the forest officials jittery given that anthrax had claimed four elephants in Nagarahole and Bandipur tiger reserves nine years back.
Notwithstanding the assertion of the animal husbandry and veterinary sciences that the damage has been contained — it is 10 days since cattle have been felled by anthrax at a village bordering Bandipur — fear stalks the swathes of tiger reserves.
Death of cattle due to anthrax is worrisome. Luckily, there are no animal deaths under mysterious circumstances inside the forested area. It is too early to say that the damage in contained and that it will not strike back, a senior official attached to Bandipur National Park conceded. Pointing at the death of elephants at Nagarahole in 2004, he stated: It is impossible to guess since the disease has claimed wildlife in this part in the past.
The fear started to lurk following death of a 10-year-old tusker due to anthrax in Thalavadi range in Sathyamangalam forest bordering BRT tiger reserve in early November. What is perplexing is that the disease has killed cattle at Bheemana Bidu on Mysore-Sultan Bathery road.
While wildlife in BRT faced the danger, it is now the turn of Bandipur. Bheemana Bidu is located eight kilometers from Bandipur forest. After it was established that anthrax is the reason for the death of cattle, we’ve vaccinated over 700 cattle and 450 sheep in the affected region.
The disease is now contained and there are no reports of death of livestock due to anthrax, Dr Sundar Raju, deputy director, animal husbandry and veterinary sciences, Chamarajnagar, told TOI. According to him, there are no deaths of cattle or sheep from other parts that border tiger reserves of Bandipur and BRT.
“We’ll continue vaccination at the affected area for next two years since the bacterium ‘Bacillus anthracis‘ could survive dormant for two years.” He said they have advised the villagers not to consume cattle or sheep meat and are keeping a watch over the developments.
The deputy director said there are no reports of human contamination as of now but didn’t rule it out pointing out that the bacterium could lie dormant for some time before it become active.
Mysore district has not reported death due to anthrax, Dr B M Prasad Murthy, deputy director, animal husbandry and veterinary sciences, Mysore, said. “There are no cases either in Nagarahole region,” he said but said they are keeping a close watch.
There are no deaths in three tiger reserves owing to anthrax. We’ve sounded alert and the field staff have been directed to lookout for suspicious death of wild animals. Since livestock is vaccinated, it should not spread, B J Hosmath, APCCF and field director (Project Tiger), stated.