Faced with the threat of outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) among wild animals, the Kerala Forest and Wildlife Department has come out with a host of measures to check the spread of the disease.
Besides regulating and restricting the movement of men and vehicles including tourists in and around protected areas and introducing bio-safety measures, the field staff have been asked to be on alert for any signs of outbreak of the disease.
No death of the animal due to the disease has been reported so far, said V. Gopinath, Chief Wildlife Warden, Kerala.Peak season
Incidentally, the restrictions and regulations on tourism operations come during the peak tourism season when the eco-tourism centres of the Forest Department receive maximum number of visitors.
The protocol, which covers free-ranging animals of the wild as well as the captive stock, has called for the vaccination of unvaccinated cattle in and around protected areas. The field staff have been put on alert to monitor the trans-boundary movement of cattle and to look out for animals for any signs of FMD.
The slaughterhouses in and around the protected areas will be closed down and waste disposal in the vicinity will be banned. Trekking of tourists will either be stopped or regulated till the epidemic is brought under control.
Visitors will be asked to dip their feet and wash the wheels of vehicles with sodium carbonate solution at the entry points of protected areas. The foot dip solution should be changed periodically. All vehicles operating within the protected areas should be disinfected regularly.
A weekly report on mortality of wild animals will be prepared with special attention to the death of herbivores, the circular said.
Besides monitoring any “abnormal lameness in even-footed animals like deer and gaur,” the field staff have also been asked to keep an eye on “all the kills by major predators” as the “chance of predation would be high in affected lame animals.”
The animal rescue centres and deer parks have been asked to avoid /regulate the flow of visitors till the epidemic is under control. Visitors have been advised to avoid any contact with the animals in the wake of reports that the disease has spread in many parts of the State.
Disinfection measures have also been suggested at the entry points especially the ones that bring fodder to the centres. The wildlife warden has also suggested that fodder should be collected from areas free of the disease. The staff have been asked not to use regular clothes but uniforms and shoes, which should be regularly disinfected.