BHOPAL: With news of coronavirus spreading in tigers, especially after death of lioness in Chennai zoo, forest department in Madhya Pradesh is taking no chance and testing the tigers with even remote symptoms. Samples of two tigers were taken in past two months and the process is on in Pench Tiger Reserve for randomly selected tigers.
Fortunately the swab samples of the two tigers tested negative. Covid test was performed on a tiger in Van Vihar and another in Panna tiger reserve. But now a bigger exercise is in the offing in the Pench Tiger Reserve where three young tigers have died since January.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), Alok Kumar said the proposal for blood and swab test for tigers in Pench Tiger Reserve is under consideration and final decision will be taken after meeting of technical committee. But the ground reports from field in Pench and Seoni suggests that the exercise has already begun.
Kumar added that there is a general protocol that any tiger showing symptoms of infection has to be tested. Symptoms include sneezing, dropping nose, dullness etc.
Two teams in Pench are active on two elephants for over past two weeks locating tigers for sample collection. But the onset of rains in the region has made the otherwise not-so-difficult work into a challenging task. Not a single sample could be taken till date.
Sources from the Pench Tiger Reserve said that blood and swab samples of five randomly selected tigers will be taken and sent to the laboratory for Covid test.
Sources said that the decision was taken after reports from the forensic science laboratory and post-mortem. The reports ruled out possibility of deaths of three tigers in Pench Tiger Reserve from electrocution. No poison or injury marks were found either leading to possibility of poaching. All the three tigers were in age group between 5-8 years.
A controversy had erupted during first wave of Covid-19 when a tiger had died in mysterious circumstances and wildlife activists had blamed it to Corona virus. Later a petition was filed in the Supreme Court as well, where forest department had produced a report from a lab saying that corona virus was not the reason behind tigerís death.
Nevertheless, the matter complicated later when it was found that the lab- that gave the report- was not authorised for it.