An international workshop on Asian elephants and tigers being held at the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (KVASU) headquarters at Pookode stressed the need for more research on diseases affecting the animals.
The four-day programme is being organised by the Centre for Wildlife Studies under KVASU in association with the Department of Forests and Wildlife.
While handling a session on Wednesday, John Lewis, scientist, Wildlife Vets International, U.K., highlighted the need to expand research into the canine distemper virus as it is more prone to mutation and results in high mortality. “Minimal tiger surveillance data owing to the declining wild tiger population makes the task daunting. Currently, there is no tiger-specific vaccine available to prevent the same,” Dr. Lewis said adding that understanding the disease better and proposing a plan to prevent its occurrence in the wild is the need of the hour to save the tiger population.
Dr. Nadya Sulikhan, a veterinary scientist from Vladivostok, Russia, spoke on sampling, data acquisition and data analysis techniques and methodology required to study the prevalence of a disease in a particular area.
Arun Zachariah, Assistant Professor, Centre for Wildlife Studies, KVASU, spoke on the pathology and progression of elephant endothelial herpes virus. Over 30 such cases of the disease had been recorded from Kerala in the past few years, he said. He also explained the incidences of other infectious diseases in the wild.
Sanjay Gubbi , wildlife biologist, Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore, elucidated the conceptual framework by which the populations of tigers and other large carnivores is estimated.
Dennis Schmitt and Christopher Stremme, scientists, South West Missouri State University, US, and Centre for wildlife Studies, Sumatra, Indonesia, respectively, demonstrated ultrasonography (a diagnostic imaging technique based on the application of ultrasound) in an Asian elephant.
The workshop will conclude on Thursday.