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Experts express concern over quarantine centres near Manas

By Correspondent

BARPETA, May 20 - When the worldwide war against the COVID-19 pandemic has virtually threatened the existence of mankind, setting up of quarantine centres in areas adjacent to the Manas National Park-cum-Tiger Project is agitating the minds of the nature lovers.

The Baksa district administration has initiated steps to set up quarantine centres at hotels and lodges under the Bansbari range of the park for people coming from outside the State. The administration had invited the lodge owners a few days back and intimated the intention of the government in this regard. It is also learnt that some hotel owners had opposed the move citing that if some one among the quarantined persons is infected it may prove disastrous for the World Heritage Park.

When contacted, the director of the park acknowledged the decision of the district administration to set up quarantine centres in these lodges. When asked about the probable spread of the virus to the animal fraternity of the park, he said that corona transmission to wildlife is not possible until the latter comes into contact with the infected persons. However, he agreed that such measures should be adopted as a last resort. If persons coming from outside can be accommodated in other places, these lodges should be avoided. He however made it clear that he cannot go against the decision of the authority as the coronavirus outbreak has been marked as a pandemic and hence there are some compulsions too.

A wildlife expert on the condition of anonymity told this correspondent that normally there is no problem in setting up of a quarantine centre in a lodge on the plea that it is attached to a National Park rich in diverse wildlife. But if there are some infected persons and they somehow come into contact with an animal it may cost dear not only to the park but also to the State as a whole. He stated that a number of animals in the park like elephants, deer, monkey and hog deer visit the adjoining areas. Even, the rhino, the pride of Assam comes out and move along the residential areas. The animals are seen moving around the lodge premises. They graze in those areas, drink, eat food and sleep there off and on. In that case, if some infected persons are unknowingly quarantined there before being tested and diagnosed, the probability of the spread of the virus to an animal cannot be ruled out.

He also said that the animal coming into contact with an infected person may not be harmed due to its strong immunity, but when it re-enters the jungle and comes into contacts with other animals who may be weak, such animals may die. So it is advisable to avoid the use of the core areas of a wildlife sanctuary for such purposes.

A lodge owner alleged that monkeys, deer, pigs and squirrels are regular visitors to the lodge premises. It is not practical to prevent these animals, especially, the monkeys from entering the lodge campus, which very often consume food in their lodge. But they cannot defy government orders at this hour of emergency. So he requested the authorities to look into the conservation aspects of the park before arriving at a final decision.

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Experts express concern over quarantine centres near Manas

BARPETA, May 20 - When the worldwide war against the COVID-19 pandemic has virtually threatened the existence of mankind, setting up of quarantine centres in areas adjacent to the Manas National Park-cum-Tiger Project is agitating the minds of the nature lovers.

The Baksa district administration has initiated steps to set up quarantine centres at hotels and lodges under the Bansbari range of the park for people coming from outside the State. The administration had invited the lodge owners a few days back and intimated the intention of the government in this regard. It is also learnt that some hotel owners had opposed the move citing that if some one among the quarantined persons is infected it may prove disastrous for the World Heritage Park.

When contacted, the director of the park acknowledged the decision of the district administration to set up quarantine centres in these lodges. When asked about the probable spread of the virus to the animal fraternity of the park, he said that corona transmission to wildlife is not possible until the latter comes into contact with the infected persons. However, he agreed that such measures should be adopted as a last resort. If persons coming from outside can be accommodated in other places, these lodges should be avoided. He however made it clear that he cannot go against the decision of the authority as the coronavirus outbreak has been marked as a pandemic and hence there are some compulsions too.

A wildlife expert on the condition of anonymity told this correspondent that normally there is no problem in setting up of a quarantine centre in a lodge on the plea that it is attached to a National Park rich in diverse wildlife. But if there are some infected persons and they somehow come into contact with an animal it may cost dear not only to the park but also to the State as a whole. He stated that a number of animals in the park like elephants, deer, monkey and hog deer visit the adjoining areas. Even, the rhino, the pride of Assam comes out and move along the residential areas. The animals are seen moving around the lodge premises. They graze in those areas, drink, eat food and sleep there off and on. In that case, if some infected persons are unknowingly quarantined there before being tested and diagnosed, the probability of the spread of the virus to an animal cannot be ruled out.

He also said that the animal coming into contact with an infected person may not be harmed due to its strong immunity, but when it re-enters the jungle and comes into contacts with other animals who may be weak, such animals may die. So it is advisable to avoid the use of the core areas of a wildlife sanctuary for such purposes.

A lodge owner alleged that monkeys, deer, pigs and squirrels are regular visitors to the lodge premises. It is not practical to prevent these animals, especially, the monkeys from entering the lodge campus, which very often consume food in their lodge. But they cannot defy government orders at this hour of emergency. So he requested the authorities to look into the conservation aspects of the park before arriving at a final decision.

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