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State lacks scientific veterinary care for wildlife

By SIVASISH THAKUR

GUWAHATI, Dec 10 - Notwithstanding the State�s remarkable wildlife wealth, shortage of scientific veterinary care for wildlife as well as dearth of specialist wildlife vets has remained an unaddressed concern, hurting the cause of conservation.

�There is clearly a serious dearth of specialised wildlife care in the State. We do not have specialised wildlife veterinarians nor are the existing facilities adequate. A case in point happens to be the recent death of the two rhinos � a mother and a calf � at Burhachapori Wildlife Sanctuary,� a conservationist associated with the ongoing rhino translocation project under the ambitious Indian Rhino Vision (IRV)-2030 said.

Pointing out that there has been no scientific study of the unnatural rhino deaths in Kaziranga, the conservationist said that unless this was studied as a matter of specialisation, vets would continue to remain clueless about wildlife diseases that require pinpointed diagnosis.

A senior veterinarian associated with the Forest department echoes the same concerns. �It�s true that we do not have the required facilities for diagnosis of wild animals or zoo animals, and most of the time we treat on the basis of the symptoms, or past experiences or simply on our hunch,� he said.

A forest official said that even the facilities in the Assam State Zoo were poor by any standard. �It lacks the basic diagnostic facilities such as X-ray, blood testing equipment like haemo-analyser, scanning and ultrasound machines. This makes pinpointing the disorder or its cause impossible,� he said.

The zoo also lacks facilities for separate space for quarantining injured animals that are brought for treatment whereas isolating the injured animal is a norm.

The veterinary facilities in the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries are also abysmal. The required number of vets, too, is not there. �In Kaziranga, the CWRC, run jointly by the WTI and the Forest department, is doing a good job with their limited facilities, especially in rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife in distress. But it too is lacking in adequate and specialised veterinary care,� the official said.

As for the recent disease-induced rhino deaths in Burhachapori, both the animals apparently suffered from liver disorder. The calf also had severe worm infection in its intestines.

�For handling wildlife cases, experienced and specialised doctors are needed. Livestock veterinary doctors cannot understand the physiology of wild animals. It is a fact that the Forest department lacks specialised manpower for the treatment of wild animals,� a forest official said.

Zoo DFO SK Sealsarma, however, said that it would be wrong to say that our vets lack the expertise to treat wildlife. �We have experienced vets who have been successfully handling cases. Some of them are even invited by other states for handling critical cases. The Assam State Zoo also seeks the assistance of the College of Veterinary Science, Khanapara, for dealing with difficult cases,� he said.

For handling wildlife cases, the veterinary doctor needs to have a special diploma from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in Bareiley. However, the doctors with the Forest department do not hold this diploma. The practice is to attach doctors to the department from the parent Department of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science through deputation.

The IVRI is the only institute in the country that gives specialised diploma and training in wildlife medical studies.

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State lacks scientific veterinary care for wildlife

GUWAHATI, Dec 10 - Notwithstanding the State�s remarkable wildlife wealth, shortage of scientific veterinary care for wildlife as well as dearth of specialist wildlife vets has remained an unaddressed concern, hurting the cause of conservation.

�There is clearly a serious dearth of specialised wildlife care in the State. We do not have specialised wildlife veterinarians nor are the existing facilities adequate. A case in point happens to be the recent death of the two rhinos � a mother and a calf � at Burhachapori Wildlife Sanctuary,� a conservationist associated with the ongoing rhino translocation project under the ambitious Indian Rhino Vision (IRV)-2030 said.

Pointing out that there has been no scientific study of the unnatural rhino deaths in Kaziranga, the conservationist said that unless this was studied as a matter of specialisation, vets would continue to remain clueless about wildlife diseases that require pinpointed diagnosis.

A senior veterinarian associated with the Forest department echoes the same concerns. �It�s true that we do not have the required facilities for diagnosis of wild animals or zoo animals, and most of the time we treat on the basis of the symptoms, or past experiences or simply on our hunch,� he said.

A forest official said that even the facilities in the Assam State Zoo were poor by any standard. �It lacks the basic diagnostic facilities such as X-ray, blood testing equipment like haemo-analyser, scanning and ultrasound machines. This makes pinpointing the disorder or its cause impossible,� he said.

The zoo also lacks facilities for separate space for quarantining injured animals that are brought for treatment whereas isolating the injured animal is a norm.

The veterinary facilities in the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries are also abysmal. The required number of vets, too, is not there. �In Kaziranga, the CWRC, run jointly by the WTI and the Forest department, is doing a good job with their limited facilities, especially in rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife in distress. But it too is lacking in adequate and specialised veterinary care,� the official said.

As for the recent disease-induced rhino deaths in Burhachapori, both the animals apparently suffered from liver disorder. The calf also had severe worm infection in its intestines.

�For handling wildlife cases, experienced and specialised doctors are needed. Livestock veterinary doctors cannot understand the physiology of wild animals. It is a fact that the Forest department lacks specialised manpower for the treatment of wild animals,� a forest official said.

Zoo DFO SK Sealsarma, however, said that it would be wrong to say that our vets lack the expertise to treat wildlife. �We have experienced vets who have been successfully handling cases. Some of them are even invited by other states for handling critical cases. The Assam State Zoo also seeks the assistance of the College of Veterinary Science, Khanapara, for dealing with difficult cases,� he said.

For handling wildlife cases, the veterinary doctor needs to have a special diploma from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in Bareiley. However, the doctors with the Forest department do not hold this diploma. The practice is to attach doctors to the department from the parent Department of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science through deputation.

The IVRI is the only institute in the country that gives specialised diploma and training in wildlife medical studies.

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