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States on high alert; wild elephants dies of anthrax

Chennai: In Tamil Nadu and Kerala, forest departments are on higher alert after a dead elephant was discovered with anthrax bacteria in the Anaikatti forest area, which is located between the two states.

The team from Coimbatore forest division found the carcass of a female elephant on routine inspection, which according to the officials, was between 13-15 years old.

Forest officials confirmed that the blood smear samples collected from the elephant contained Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax. According to the department, blood was found oozing from the elephant’s mouth and anus after the department went for a blood sample test. This is a characteristic sign of anthrax, according to officials.

As a result of anthrax being found in the elephant in the forest area Anaikati, which is shared by the two states, the forest departments of Tamil Nadu and Kerala met online. The area is also close to human habitation and animals like goats, buffaloes, oxen and cows have been brought in by those living in the border area, so both the animal husbandry and forest departments are on high alert.

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In a statement to the media, a senior forest officer from Coimbatore Forest division said, ‘We are in touch with the Palakkad forest division of Kerala since Anaikati is shared between the two states. The alert level is high, since the area has large settlements and domesticated animals. As the domestic animals also graze in the forest and near the water bodies, it will be interesting to see how we approach vaccination and other measures.’

In the meantime, the carcass of the elephant will be cremated on Tuesday to prevent an outbreak of infection. The forests divisions in Coimbatore and Palakkad have also given directions to the rangers to monitor wild elephants and other wild animals in Anaikati forest.

Coimbatore Forest Division’s Animal Disease Intelligence Unit is monitoring the situation. Palakkad forest division in Kerala along with the state’s animal husbandry department is also conducting a high-level meeting of forest officials, veterinarians and other concerned officials on the vaccination of cattle in the border areas.

‘We are checking with the Kerala Forest Department to see if any cases of anthrax have been reported in the state recently,’ said I Anwardeen, Additional Chief Conservator of Forests (Coimbatore Circle).


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