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Kerala Kaumudi Online
Sunday, 03 March 2024 3.50 AM IST

276 wild elephants under 10 years of age have died: Domestic elephants safe; what is happening in Kerala forests

elephants

THRISSUR: A forest department survey found that 40 percent of wild elephants that died in the state due to disease are calves. Of the 735 elephants that died between 2015 and 2022, 276 were under the age of ten. 155 calves aged between 10 and 20 had also passed away.

Forest department conducted the study under the leadership of Dr. M Balakrishnan, lead wildlife monitoring expert at Parambikulam Tiger Conservation Foundation.

The main cause is a contagious viral disease (endotheliotropic herpesvirus) that affects the stomach, intestines and related organs. In Asia, the death rate among eight-year-old elephants is 80 percent. Mortality decreases with age. No cure has yet been found for immunity.

10 years ago, under the leadership of Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Arun Zachariah, efforts were made to find a vaccine under the leadership of the Forest Department, but there was no further action. This is because the disease does not affect domestic elephants. If infected, the elephant will die within a few days. If it reaches the extreme stage, internal bleeding will occur and death will happen within an hour. Since the death happens in the forest, post-mortem and close examination of the disease is difficult.

Herpes symptoms

Swelling on neck and face

Reluctance to feed

Blue tongue

Vomiting and diarrhoea

Wild elephants in the state

3322 in 2017

1920 at present

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