Samples collected from elephants to test for COVID-19

Rectal swab being taken by a veterinary officer for COVID-19 test from one of the elephants at the Elephant Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre at M.R. Palayam near Tiruchi on Friday.  


A Forest Department veterinary team collected swab samples for COVID-19 tests from six captive animals housed in the Elephant Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre at M.R. Palayam in the district on Friday. The tests for the elephants were conducted as a sequel to the death of one of the lions at the Vandalur Zoological Park near Chennai due to COVID-19 and a few other lions having tested positive for the viral infection recently.

The veterinary team led by A. Sukumar, Forest Veterinary Officer, Coimbatore, arrived at the Elephant Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre adjoining the Tiruchi - Chennai national highway in the morning to collect the swabs from the six elephants - 'Malachi', 'Indhu', 'Sandhya', 'Jayanthi', 'Gomathi' and 'Jameela'.

Rectal swabs for COVID-19 tests were collected from each elephant from the individual shed where they were housed, Mr. Sukumar told The Hindu. In addition to this, trunk wash samples were also taken from each animal to screen for tuberculosis and herpes virus, he added.

Mr. Sukumar said the rectal swab samples were sent through courier to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute situated at Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh approved by the Central Zoo Authority. The exercise of collecting swab samples from the pachyderms with assistance of the mahouts was completed in one hour after which the veterinary team carried out a health check for all the six elephants. Mr. Sukumar said the health condition of the six elephants was "well and good" and there was no weight loss.

District Forest Officer Tiruchi D. Sujatha, who was present when the tests were being conducted, said a team of six mahouts and four kavadi were taking care of the six elephants at the centre. Necessary arrangements for supply of provision and other items were being made to the mahouts and kavadis who resided inside the nearly 20-hectare centre which is equipped with a host of facilities.

Ms. Sujatha said the mahouts and kavadis had no symptoms of the viral infection as they did not venture out of the centre which is a very secluded place. The centre functioning in a huge reserve forest area is equipped with a host of facilities including separate shed for each elephant; a kitchen to cook for the pachyderms, bathing pond, bathing shower, water trough and mud pond and quarters to accommodate the mahouts and kavadis. The centre became functional in early September 2019 when the first captive elephant 'Malachi' was translocated from Madurai. Subsequently, the other elephants were translocated to the rehabilitation centre, including three pachyderms owned by the Kanchi Mutt.

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Printable version | Jul 24, 2021 2:28:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/samples-collected-from-elephants-to-test-for-covid-19/article34790416.ece

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