Anthrax scare in reserve after death of buffaloes

Central Assam’s Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary found the carcasses of the feral buffaloes on October 15 and 16.

October 21, 2019 05:21 am | Updated 05:21 am IST - GUWAHATI

Veterinarians have confirmed anthrax as the cause of death of two Asiatic water buffaloes in central Assam’s Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, which has the highest concentration of one-horned rhinos in the world and is often called ‘Mini Kaziranga’ due to similar landscape and vegetation.

“We found the carcasses of the feral buffaloes in the sanctuary on October 15 and 16. Veterinarians confirmed anthrax as the cause following which we have taken precautionary measures,” the sanctuary’s ranger Mukul Tamuli said told The Hindu on Sunday. Anthrax, caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis , can be fatal for humans who come in contact with infected animals. It is characterised by blisters around swellings on the skin, chest pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and fever.

Mr. Tamuli said 11 domesticated elephants engaged by the department for tourist safaris and heavy-duty work were vaccinated on Friday. “We have requested the district veterinary officer to vaccinate domestic animals in the fringe areas,” he added. The sanctuary has not imposed restrictions on visitors, but has fenced off the area around where the carcasses of the diseased buffaloes were disposed of and heat-treated. Senior Assam Forest Department officials said they were monitoring the animals to prevent an anthrax outbreak. Among the vulnerable animals are the rhinos, whose population in the sanctuary in 2018 was estimated to be 102.

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