A female elephant carcass found in the Namsang area in Soraipung range of Joypur Reserve Forest in Assam’s Dibrugarh district was suspected to have been infected with anthrax.
Anthrax is one of the most fatal diseases impacting elephants. It is a bacterium that causes high fever, shivering, ulcers and swellings.
Carcasses of two female elephants were found in the Namsang area within a week.
Forest officials had first discovered a sub-adult female elephant carcass aged between 10 years.
Within 36 hours carcass of another elephant was found about 500 meters away from the first.
Both these elephants were supposed to have belonged to the same herd.
“We have seen a herd of seven to 12 elephants in the area recently,” said a resident of an adjacent village.
Wildlife Trust of India veterinarian, Khanin Changmai said, “We have conducted the autopsy of both the elephants and found the first to be anthrax positive.”
Forest officials later cremated the elephant carcasses.
Changmai along with another government veterinary surgeon had conducted the autopsy of both the elephants.
The villagers residing near the forest area are worried as their livestock can be affected by anthrax that spreads through contaminated water or soil.
There are a host of illnesses that are specific to elephants, such as trunk paralysis and elephant pox.
Changmai said, “We can stop the disease from spreading by vaccinating the animals against it.”
“Although every elephant cannot be given vaccinated, the villagers living adjacent to the forest should get their livestock vaccinated,” he said.
A total of 18 elephants had died of anthrax during 2016-2018 in Odisha.
The union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) has recently come out with a standard operating procedure (SOP) for dealing with elephant mortalities due to anthrax.