Bhubaneswar, October 01 (LocalWire): A sub-adult female elephant which was reported sick for four days at Damapada forest range under Chandaka wildlife sanctuary has died amid speculation of herpes infection.
“The exact cause of its death is yet to be ascertained. However, the elephant’s death due to deadly Elephant Endothliotropic Herpes Viruses (EEHV) infection may not be ruled out,” Chandaka Wildlife Sanctuary divisional forest officer Kedar Kumar Swain told the LocalWire.
He further informed that since EEHV mostly attacks juvenile and sub-adult elephants, the blood samples and swabs of the deceased elephant were sent to the Centre for Wildlife Health at Orissa University of Agriculture Technology (OUAT) for further investigation.
“The 12-year-old sub-adult female elephant was spotted in distressed condition on 27 September near Kuamada village under Damapada forest range. We tried our level best to save it with medication by veterinarians. But it did not yield the desired results,” Swain said.
It may be recalled here that Nandankanan zoo near Bhubaneswar had lost four elephants due to deadly herpes viral infection during the last one month, bringing down the number of pachyderms in the Zoological Park here to four.
The herpes viral infection at Nadankaran was the first instance of herpes infection in any Indian zoo though there are reports of elephants dying of herpes in wild in Assam in the past.
EEHV is lethal given the fact once infected the chance of survival of elephants is very remote. In no time, it spreads to internal organs and causes damage to tissues, leading to the death of the elephant.
“As the virus spreads from one elephant to the other due to physical contact, segregating the elephants is the safest option for us to ensure the safety of the animals.
No curative medicine or vaccine has so far been developed to deal with the deadly infection that attacks elephants only,” he stated.
Odisha is home to about 1,976 elephants in the wild, 7% of India’s 27,312 elephant population.
They are facing the threat of extinction mainly due to shrinkage of their natural habitat and poaching.