Hindustan Times (Lucknow)
To protect tigers, PTR to launch drive against ‘lethal parasites’
LUCKNOW : To protect tigers from parasitic infection, officials of Pilibhit Tiger Reserve have started a drive to control the spread of ‘lethal parasites’ in the reserve forest. These parasites usually affect large canines like leopards and tigers, and in certain conditions, may prove fatal for the animals.
“We have identified almost a dozen such parasites and will devise measures to prevent their spread,” said Adarsh Kumar, divisional forest officer (DFO).
“We will also seek assistance of wildlife research institutes in the programme,” he added.
The decision has been made after examining the potential threat to big cats from these parasites. In 2018, a semi-adult tiger of PTR was found with ‘extreme’ parasitic infection that resulted in the animal’s death.
The veterinary scientist, who performed the post-mortem examination on the tiger, found nine different parasites from the big cat’s intestines, muscles, and even its heart.
Scientists recovered five kinds of round worms and four kinds of flat worms from the specimen collected from the animal. Besides, the extent of infection was found to be alarming and was noted as a cause that might have led to the tiger’s death, said officials.
Parasitic infections were also reported in four other tiger carcasses examined by experts.
“That tiger was recovered from a canal in Barahi range of the forest. So, we have decided to begin our programme from the same region,” said the DFO.
According to experts, most of these parasites enter the animal’s body via food or wounds. “Many of these parasites are found in dormant state in the flesh of other animals that are preyed upon by large canines. When the animal eats infected flesh, it gets infected by the parasite,” explained the DFO.
In the first phase of the plan, forest officials will collect samples of animals that are preyed upon by tigers. These include wild boars, antelopes and spotted deer. The samples will be marked according to the region of the forest.
Once the samples are examined, they will be shared by experts to devise a plan to counter the spread of infection, according to the DFO.